What a night it was.
Eva seemed to have no nervousness at all; her first night in this the starring role as Gilda in Rigoletto; guesting/sharing the role whatever the Opera term is, with the great Emma Mathews. It was her first night; her debut, starring at the Sydney Opera House. Eva’s husband Brandon was probably more nervous than Eva when we met quickly in the foyer just before the bell. From the very beginning the strength of Rigoletto Warren Fyfe and the Duke of Mantua Gianluca Terranova set the tone of a great performance. I held my breath as Gilda (Eva) first appeared in act 2 and was immediately surrounded by her voice. I would have loved every moment of every facet and every singer in Rigoletto even if I’d never met Eva before but knowing her over the past 4 years the night was very much about being there to support Eva. I had first met her through Pacific Opera, the company that is a starting point for young singers before they reach the ‘big house’ I had been co-opted because of an old friend Sue Hackett who was the General Manager of the Company at the time and my contribution to a very generous donation to Pacific Opera was to cook a dinner in a private home- and that is when I first heard Eva sing and was moved to tears by her voice- and I’ve been in her musical spell ever since
Saturday night, the audience was enthusiastic in their delight in all of the performers but I secretly felt that there was a special acceptance of Eva. Such a small frame; such an ability to throw out her voice seemily effortlessly keeping such pure tone. As we walked out after the performance two special Sydney friends who had been sitting in the row in front walked out with us and joined me in feeling we had been privy to a truly special performance. Going backstage to give Eva a hug was to be pulled into the excitement of family and friends all of us very proud.
Walking back to the hotel, still in the aura of the night and a mixture of being peckish and not wanting the evening to end we tentatively walked up the steps to Rockpool just around the corner from where we were staying. No matter that it was late we were welcomed with open arms and directed to the bar in what would have to be my favourite spot right in front of the still bustling kitchen. A glass of champagne and the most exquisite small plates from the bar menu; a plate of zushi and yes, zushi not sushi; so fresh and delicate; crab ‘soldiers’ so rich and perfect and the most indulgent of all, one of caviar with a mixture of the sweet finger of bread and salty roe. Then a yuzu marshamallow with fennel sugar to finish. What a night it was!