CULTURAL LIFE at Corrs Chambers Westgarth was given a surprise boost last week with news that David Parkin of the litigation team had won the ABC TV’s Operatunity Oz competition.
Parkin’s rich basso profundo voice overcame more than 2,000 competitors from Australia and the rest of the world, to win both the competition and a role in Verdi’s ‘Rigoletto’, playing at the Sydney Opera House last week.
Although he has been singing since he was young, Parkin had never sung an aria before, and the experience of performing at the Opera House was remarkable for him.
“It went really well,” he said. “There was a standing ovation, which I really didn’t expect. Although I think packing the front row with my family may have contributed to that.”
The audience was also made up of colleagues at Corrs, who had to wait a long time to hear that Parkin had actually won the competition.
“I didn’t really tell anyone about it until the camera crews tramped through [the office] one morning to do an interview after I made it to the final,” he said.
“I’d known the result since March, but of course I had to keep it quiet for the series. So it was very anti-climatic coming back from the final, having known that I’d won, and people would say ‘how did you go’ and I’d say ‘I can’t tell you’.”
When Parkin initially entered Operatunity Oz, the aim was to have his voice critically evaluated by experts in the field, including opera conductor Richard Gill and respected soprano Yvonnne Kenny.
“The main game was to be heard and to get a critique essentially, of my singing,” he said. “Then suddenly the main game became winning the competition.”
Coming from a musical family, with a sister who is a soprano with Opera Australia, you would be forgiven for thinking that Parkin was a shoe in. But according to the modest Corrs man, his uncommon voice was his biggest advantage.
“I strongly believe that one of the reasons I made it as far as I did was because I was a solid example of a rare voice type, as opposed to a rare example of a more common voice type, like a soprano,” Parkin said.
Whether it was the rarity of his voice that impressed the judges or not, Parkin is determined to find a balance between the law and opera in order to earn more acclaim from the industry.
“The bottom line is that I did well in the competition, but to be an Opera singer requires years and years of training,” he said.
“I’ll go and enrol myself in some Italian classes, and I’ll keep learning singing, and I’ll try and keep up with people like [Kenny], who will become mentors.”