It was a momentous occasion when Jane Ede’s voice echoed throughout Alan Walker Village’s gardens in Carlingford on 29 May.
Opera Australia’s principal soprano surprised residents with a special performance to lift the spirits of those living in isolation at Wesley Mission’s retirement village.
“When we were approached to sing for the residents here, I couldn’t believe we hadn’t thought of it before,” Jane said.
“We’re all these performers sitting around missing performing, and particularly with the restrictions, we also have a lot of people who might be feeling a bit isolated. So this brilliant idea brought us both together.”
Amy, a granddaughter of one of the residents, wrote to Opera Australia asking for a recital to celebrate her 89-year-old grandfather’s birthday.
“I wanted to let my grandparents know that I was thinking of them, and also give them something to enjoy since most of their usual weekly activities were cancelled,” Amy explained.
“I decided to shoot for the stars and ask Opera Australia if they had any Sydney-based performers who could offer a pro-bono performance for my grandparents and their neighbours.
“I was stunned and thrilled when Jane got in touch to say she would be happy to do it.”
Residents gathered in one of the courtyards for a socially distanced performance. For some, it was the first time in several months they could invite over a friend.
“It has been very quiet here for the last few months,’ said Amy’s grandfather Paul. “It was my birthday a couple of weeks ago and Amy kept this as a surprise. She knows how much I love opera and I couldn’t believe Jane would come to sing for us in Carlingford.”
Jane brought a spectacular performance of some of the greatest arias, including Musetta’s Waltz from La Boheme and the Vilya aria from The MerryWidow.
“The performance for me raised my spirits and reinforced the benefits of music,” another resident, Gordon said. “The outdoor location also helped me to understand the quality of Jane’s superb voice.”
Wesley Mission CEO, the Rev Keith V Garner AM thanked Opera Australia, acknowledging the positive impact of the performance.
“Music has a way of lifting the spirit which is so important in these challenging times. One of the silver linings in this crisis is that it has brought people together in ways that would never have happened before,” he said.