THE language of opera is a foreign one for most people, let alone young students.
It’s stranger still, when sung in a language you’re never spoken, or for many, never heard.
For a select group of Portland primary and secondary students, the learning curve isn’t as steep as they first imagined, according to pre-eminent Indigenous opera singer, Deborah Cheetham, who is teaching local students the power of music and the stage all this week at the Portland Arts Centre.
Monday morning, Ms Cheetham, the writer, director and performer of the first Indigenous opera, Pecan Summer, spent more than two hours with Indigenous primary school students from across the shire, performing sections of the opera in the Yorta Yorta language.
“This is a story that some kids here in Portland are connected to, there are some Yorta Yorta kids here in Portland and even the kids that might be Gunditjmara or other family groups, many of them have connections to Cummeragunja Mission,” Ms Cheetham said.
The story of Pecan Summer is based on the Cummeragunja Mission walk-off in 1939, when roughly 200 Yorta Yorta people, including Ms Cheetham’s uncle, Jimmy Little, left the New South Wales mission in protest, with many settling in Mooroopna outside Shepparton.
Read more in Wednesday’s edition of the Portland Observer.