Opera diva Suzanne Johnston admits she loves the singing voice of her partner, musical theatre legend Judi Connelli. But Johnston says with just a hint of frustration that these days she has to work with Connelli to hear those renowned vocal cords in action.
She doesn’t sing much at home, so the only way I get to hear her is to see her on stage or do a show with her, Johnston quips from the pair’s home outside Melbourne in the days before leaving for Parramatta’s Riverside Theatres to perform their show Perfect Strangers.
One of the things I love most about doing a show with Judi is to be washed by that beautiful sound. I really would go anywhere to hear her sing, and sometimes it really makes my heart burst, as she is such a fantastic singer and it is an exceptional sound. It is beautiful to work with such an artist.
Johnston and Connelli have been together for almost 10 years, and it was in 1999 they released their ARIA-award winning duet album Perfect Strangers. The unique combination of their vocal styles on disc proved such a hit they soon took a show by the same name on the road.
Seven years, and many sell-out seasons later, the pair will draw the final curtain on the show on Sunday 25 June in Parramatta.
This is it -“ it is time to say goodbye to Perfect Strangers, Johnston says. This will be quite a nostalgic show for us as we will be saying goodbye to all this material -“ and what great material it is!
We still do a few pieces from the album, some duets and we have included some new material as well. There is also the Sondheim material, which we enjoy singing and the audience always seems to enjoy, and I am also doing some old Kathryn Grayson songs which are beautiful.
But this really is the show we had to have -“ it’s the final hurrah.
After Perfect Strangers, Johnston returns to Opera Australia to play Ruth in the popular The Pirates Of Penzance, which opens on 2 August. After that show finishes touring, Johnston and Connelli begin work on putting together a new show, which will debut mid next year.
We already have that cooking away, she says. I think we are both at a point where we want to expand ourselves into new repertoire. So we are looking at new material and working out what we will do with it. It will be good for us.
Perfect Strangers plays Sunday 25 June at 3pm at Parramatta’s Riverside Theatres. Bookings on 8839 3399.