Opera star to return to Karijini Experience

Shannon BeattiePilbara News
Deborah Cheetham will be returning for Opera in the Gorge at the Karijini Experience.
Camera IconDeborah Cheetham will be returning for Opera in the Gorge at the Karijini Experience. Credit: Cathy Finch

Beautiful, dramatic and powerful music will be returning to the Karijini Experience this week when indigenous opera singer Deborah Cheetham returns to Kalamina Gorge.

This year will be Cheetham’s fourth time at the Experience and she will once again be performing with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra.

She said delivering Opera in the Gorge was a wonderful opportunity for her and a unique experience each time.

“There is nowhere quite like the Pilbara,” she said.

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“I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to sing in many wonderful venues around the world, but you cannot rival the beauty of the natural landscape at Karijini.”

For her performance, she will be welcoming back tenor Matthew Reese, who has just completed a season with Opera Australia as one of the lead roles in Madame Butterfly.

“We’ll be building on the partnership we started last year and I know how much he enjoyed seeing some of the gorges and swimming places in his downtime,” she said.

Cheetham said one of her favourite parts of the Experience is the mix of audience members, with both people who know and love opera but also people who are totally new to it.

“When you’re hearing live opera and you’re in the space with the singer, there is a vibration that is created that no recording can ever give you,” she said.

“When you put that vibration in to such an ancient and powerful landscape, you will take away a feeling that will stay with you for a long time.”

It’s not just the beautiful landscape that keeps Cheetham coming back to the Karijini Experience, but the wonderful people she gets to meet.

“You really cannot overstate how generous and welcoming the Banjima people, like Maitland Parker and his wife, are.”

“You feel part of that community even though you’re only there for a short time.”

She encouraged everyone to attend the Karijini Experience in their lives because it was an experience that could not be replicated elsewhere.

“It’s not a country you can just drive through,” she said. “You’ve got to get a bit of red dust in your skin and feel the warmth not just of the environment that surrounds you, but of the people.”

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