Why did you decide to program a bel canto festival?

The idea emerged from conversations with conductor/composer Richard Mills. After seeing a performance of Bellini’s The Capulets and the Montagues (I Capuleti e i Montecchi), with Jessica Pratt singing Giulietta, I wanted Brisbane audiences to be able to experience her voice. Richard has been to many bel canto festivals in Italy, and we thought a festival would be a great way to shine a light on this extraordinary period of singing.

Patrick Nolan. Photo © Paul Blackmore

How important was it to feature a star performer like Jessica Pratt?

Jessica is part of a lineage of phenomenal Australian singers, from Nellie Melba to Joan Sutherland, who have enchanted audiences around the world singing bel canto repertoire. This alone is something to celebrate, and as Jessica has never sung a leading role in Brisbane before, I thought it was important we gave Brisbane audiences the opportunity to see her perform.

How did you settle on the program?

Richard and I wanted to launch the festival with a well-known title; audiences travel far and wide to hear Jessica sing Lucia in Donizetti’s