Our Messiah Soloists: Timothy Newton
Timothy is a bass originally from Queensland. In 2017, he performed The Ambassador in Respighi's The Sleeping Beauty and Alessio in La Sonnambula both with Victorian Opera, Sarastro in The Magic Flute with the Opera Australia Victorian Schools Tour, Olin Blitch in Carlisle Floyd's Susannah with Opera New England, among other concert engagements.
In 2018 he will make his New Zealand Opera debut as Colline in La Boheme. Timothy was a recipient of the Acclaim Award Italian Opera Fellowship for an Italian study tour this year. In 2016, he was a scholarship recipient from both the Melba Opera Trust and the Lisa Gasteen National Opera School.
He has previously performed the roles Dr Grenvil in La Traviata with Opera New England, The Chief of MI6 in Malcolm Williamson's Our Man in Havana with the Lyric Opera of Melbourne, and is an established oratorio singer having performed Haydn's Creation with the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Orchestra, amongst other concert engagements. Timothy studied economics and law at the University of Melbourne.
We caught up with Timothy before St Peter's annual performance of Messiah to find out more about his experiences singing Messiah and how he approaches this singularly popular work.
Tell us about your experience singing Handel’s Messiah.
This performance is my Messiah debut - something I have wanted to sing for many years. The arias written for bass are some of the finest in the oratorio canon.
What are some of the challenges in the arias that you sing?
The bass arias are challenging to sing, and require both a weighty, resonant vocal colour in order to convincingly convey the drama and a flexibility and facility to sing coloratura. The range spans a full two octaves.
Do you have a favourite moment in the work?
The Trumpet shall sound. Of course.
What’s your approach to ornamentation - prepare or improvise?
Contemporaries of Handel would have tended towards improvisation. But that was then and singers were accustomed to it and properly trained to improvise as the repertoire demanded it. The skill is less prevalent now, and so some preparation, at least in my case, is required!
Does singing this music in a church feel different to singing it in a concert hall?
The magnitude of the Christian message is more palpable in Church than a secular concert hall. And the church setting is often more intimate: certainly the case at St Peter's.
Briefly tell us about your plans for 2018.
Some opera! Here in Melbourne and elsewhere - including a role debut as Colline in La Boheme for New Zealand Opera.