Q&A/The Festival Sessions/Circus/Music

Aria on high

28 January 2020

Classical singer Aria Scarlett believes opera should be available to everyone. In her Fringe World show Wave Form, she takes to the streets on stilts to create new space for an old art form.

In her Fringe Session Q&A Aria Scarlett tells Seesaw about the path that led her up in the air to share her craft.

This article is sponsored content.

Seesaw: Aria, tell us about your career path to date.
Aria Scarlett:
I remember playing the violin (badly) in primary school. When I hit high school, I was the only person who still wanted to learn the instrument so I was asked to pick something new. Did my awful playing put everyone else off? Probably. I chose singing (thinking that would mean not carrying an instrument around all the time – I was VERY wrong!) and fell in love with the language and story manipulation almost immediately.

Straight after high school, I successfully auditioned for the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) where I studied classical music and opera singing for five years and gained two degrees.

Since graduating my goal has been to help redefine how classical music is perceived. Let’s be honest, opera became INCREDIBLY elitist, music shouldn’t require wealth to simply be enjoyed. Taking this path has led me to tour across Western Australia and interstate, performing with aerialists, fire performers, burlesque artists and contemporary dancers. My newly released EP Chopera combines dance beats and classical singing (yes, that’s a plug, find Chopera on your favourite streaming service). The music created for Wave Form is my latest exploration of classical music’s potential.

Aria Scarlett

S: Tell us about your 2020 Fringe World show, Wave Form
Wave Form combines stilt walking and opera singing in an original collaboration and world premiere! Wave Form is dedicated to portraying story regardless of the language, traversing multiple music genres to create a space all her own, inviting everyone to indulge in sound. Come and seek out this family friendly character, who will sing and delight you with her (literally) heightened visual display.

S: What differentiates Wave Form from the 700 or so other Fringe World shows on offer?
Wave Form is unique in a few ways – being family friendly and free to attend are the first big draw cards. One of my favourite features of the show is that every element was designed and created in Western Australia. The music is an original piece written just for this production, the costuming was created from scratch and hand dyed in Perth, even the stilts themselves were built locally. Wave Form is truly the definition of a homegrown show.

S: Tell us about the creative/rehearsal process for the show…
I started learning to walk on stilts in March 2019 and to this day I’ve never fallen (I really hope that holds up, otherwise I’m lying from the past).

When I first got up, I imagined it would be like Bambi taking his first steps, wobbly but secure after some guidance, what actually happened is more like suddenly contracting vertigo. Your body is usually very aware of where the floor is (even at heights). On stilts, the jig is quite literally up, as your real feet are much larger than the small points connecting you to the earth. To balance, you’ve got to trick yourself into thinking your stilts are an extension of your leg. I got the hang of it by the end of day one which seemed impressive, except I’m the fool who thought singing up there was a good idea. Singing is ALL about being grounded, I lose count of all the times in lessons I was told to imagine being a tree and literally planting myself into the earth. It took months before I no longer sounded like each note was an excruciating exercise and now I can confidently say I sound good.

How good?

Well, you’ll have to come see the show…

S: What made you decide to give Fringe World a whirl?
Fringe World is a unique opportunity to present ideas and experiences to a wide audience who otherwise may not opt to come out to your show. The chance to perform to new people is always enticing, and, as a performer presenting an entirely free show, I hope to be able to show off Wave Form to as many people as possible!

Wave Form plays the Woodside Pleasure Garden, 3-9 February.

“The Fringe Sessions” is an annual series of Q&A interviews with artists who will be appearing at Fringe World. Stay tuned for more!

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Author —
Nina Levy

Nina Levy has worked as an arts writer and critic since 2007. She co-founded Seesaw and has been co-editing the platform since it went live in August 2017. As a freelancer she has written extensively for The West Australian and Dance Australia magazine, co-editing the latter from 2016 to 2019. Nina loves the swings because they take her closer to the sky.

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