Perth Concert Hall Stage Manager Josh Marsland knows a thing or two about music, having spent the first 10 years of his career with the West Australian Opera.
Studying Stage Management at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) wasn’t something Josh expected he’d be doing once he finished school, “I think at a young age sometimes you’re not sure what you should be doing next. I always had something like interior design in mind until I was told ‘I think you’d be great at this’ so it all started there.”
Although he worked on a few operas during his time at WAAPA, his first ‘real world’ opera experience was 12 years ago on the world premiere of Richard Mills’ The Love of the Nightingale, “I was really thrown into the deep end but having the opportunity to meet some incredible people and see the creation of a new work is something I’ll never forget.”
The following year Josh was welcomed back into the WA Opera fold working across all seasons before becoming Deputy Stage Manager in 2009 and continued with the company up until 2018 when he then came on board as part of the Perth Concert Hall and WASO family.
“I loved having the opportunity to work with all of these people who are at the top of their game in their field, whether that be musically or behind the scenes. Everything I know today I’ve learned from some of the best. I’ve been really lucky in my interactions and experiences.”
Having the opportunity to work on productions of this standard in his home town is something he doesn’t take for granted, “For so many people if they want to work on concerts and shows like this, they have to pick up their life and move elsewhere. What I loved about working with the Opera and now WASO is that we engage world renowned artists with incredible talent to present to Perth audiences which is so rewarding”.
Just because you’re not on the stage doesn’t mean that working as a Stage Manager comes without its own form of performance pressure, “you’ve got to be very adaptable in all sorts of situations, whether it be cuing singers onstage or calling technical cues positioned in an orchestral score, ultimately you are in charge of managing the production or concert and there’s really no room for error”.
Last August Josh was employed by WASO as a specialist to work on the production of Tristan und Isolde due to his background in opera, not knowing that Perth Concert Hall would soon become his new office, “It was funny because when I was working on Tristan it ended up being around the same time my interviews were being finalised for the position of Stage Manager with the company. I have a feeling it ended up becoming a bit of trial without me realising, right place right time kind of thing”.
Working with acclaimed German Soprano Gun-Brit Barkmin on Tristan brings back fond memories for Josh, “Gun-Brit is such a genuine, real person with incredible talent and presence. As a Stage Manager for opera you work closely with the singers and it’s so important that they can rely on you at all times. With the Orchestra once they’re on-stage they’re good to go, in opera it’s very much a collaboration to ensure the performance runs smoothly.”
From the roar of the audience following Tristan und Isolde, it was clear that Perth wanted more of the exceptional Gun-Brit so this August she returns with an evening of operatic and vocal masterworks from Beethoven, Strauss and Wagner to shine the spotlight on her phenomenal talent.
Being renowned worldwide as one of the finest exponents of Salome, it will no doubt be a thrilling experience as Gun-Brit concludes this gala event with the dramatic final scene of Strauss’ extraordinary opera which Josh cannot wait to see, “Salome is such a powerful and moving work, I can’t wait to witness Gun-Brit’s performance, it’s that amazing synergy between music and voice that takes you on a journey. It’s the best of both worlds.”
An Evening with Gun-Brit Barkmin
Friday 23 August – 7.30pm
Sunday 25 August – 2pm
Perth Concert Hall
Tickets available from waso.com.au