In his 1930s heyday, Cole Porter’s songs burst forth with youthful, suggestive verve – so it makes sense the Sydney Philharmonia would select a clutch of rising stars to bring Porter’s classic catalogue to life.
Eschewing marquee names in favour of new talent, The Philharmonia’s upcoming Cole Porter concerts will feature the vocal talents of Rob Mallet, Kerrie Anne Greenland, Caleb Vines and Julie Lea Goodwin alongside the Festival Chorus and Orchestra.
“I’m honoured we’ve been chosen and, to be honest, I’m also quite surprised! I’m really pleased Brett [Weymark, Sydney Philharmonia director] took that gamble on us youngsters,” Mallett told the Star Observer.
“The songs do have such a youth and sexiness to them – innuendos, double entendres, great wit, it’s all there.”
Mallett had just finished the national tour of Hot Shoe Shuffle when we spoke to him, and was busily cramming in as much Cole Porter as he could before the September 19 and 21 performances. He admitted that, before coming on board for the concerts, his Cole Porter knowledge was confined to the songwriter’s best-known classics – Let’s Fall in Love, I Get a Kick Out of You and Anything Goes among them.
“There are a handful that I know well, but Cole Porter is such a prolific writer that it’s hard to be on top of all of his material. I’m discovering a few songs that I’m a bit ashamed that I didn’t know before, to be honest,” he said.
“What makes it even trickier is there are so many alternate verses and versions to his songs – he was such a good writer many of his songs would be written in several different ways.”
Luckily Mallett will be amongst friends on stage, having worked with each of his three co-headliners before. Among them is a devout fan: mezzo soprano Kerrie Anne Greenland actually counts Cole Porter as her favourite composer of all time.
“His lyrics are timeless, sophisticated and witty and I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to sing some of his best work,” she said.
For Mallett, the Sydney Philharmonia shows are just the latest in what’s been a busy first year out of school. His was a bumper year for WAAPA – of the 18 students who graduated in 2012, he reports that almost all have since found regular work in the industry.
“It’s a bit of a statistical anomaly – I’ve certainly had a pretty good string of luck, to be honest. I landed the Hot Shoe Shuffle national tour, a couple of little TV bits and pieces, and this will round out the year nicely, I think. And performing on the Sydney Opera House stage! Very exciting,” he said.
INFO: Cole Porter Celebration, Sydney Opera House, September 19 & 21. sydneyoperahouse.com