Interview: Milijana Nikolic on the acoustics of sand for Griffith Opera on the Beach – Aida

The sands of Coolangatta Beach will transform into the Egyptian shoreline when Opera Australia presents Griffith Opera on the Beach – Aida this month.

We caught up with mezzo-soprano Milijana Nikolic , who will be sharing the role of Amneris, to discuss this unique opera setting!

So, Opera on a Beach! How will you have to adjust your voice for the (rather Aida-applicable) sand acoustics?

Yes, Aida on the Beach! There actually won’t need to be any adjusting – projection of the voice still stays the same and the notes I have to sing are still the same. Although, when it comes to Verdi, I think the voice must ooze elegance, class and passion. Of course, because we are performing outside and don’t have the acoustics of a theatre, we will need to use microphones.

You’ve also performed in the outdoor production of Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour – Aida, how will this compare? Did you learn anything about performing outdoors that you’ll be able to apply to this production of Aida?

To be honest, I couldn’t tell you how it will compare! Although, one thing I did learn performing in Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour is that you need to be prepared for all weather conditions because the show will go on! I’ve never performed on a beach before, this will be the first time, but the adrenaline always kicks in no matter where I’m performing.

 Amneris was certainly my favourite character in Handa Opera’s Aida production back in 2015. How do you approach this both impressive and tormented woman?

Amneris is one of my favourite character too. She is the Princess and, of course, she wants it her way but she is a woman in love and to win her man she is shameless and proud – I love that about her. Verdi gave us all of her emotions to feel through the music and words, and I’ll do my best to portray that to the audience. I feel very lucky to perform in this role and opera by one of the greatest composers of all time.

There was also an incredibly effecting scene towards the end of the production, where Amneris appeared in the giant eye of Neferiti. Do you have a favourite moment of the opera that audiences should look out for on the beautiful Coolangatta Beach?

I know there will be multiple amazing moments in this production that will be favourites for different people. I had my first costume fitting a few weeks and I absolutely love my costumes – they’re full of bold colours, strong silhouettes and intricate details.

There are also hints at a surprise guest appearance by the “Gold Coast surf life savers in an exciting, local twist”. Any more hints about how this comes into play? It all sounds very intriguing!

I don’t want to give too much away but the audience should keep an eye out for them in the ‘Triumphal March’ – it is going to be quite a spectacular moment in the production!

 And finally, you are already well acquainted with the local area – living in South East Queensland! What would be your top pick local hotspots for visiting Aida audience members?

Burleigh Heads is one of my favourite spots on the Gold Coast – it has some of the best views around and there is so much to see, do and eat!

Head to Coolangatta Beach for Opera Australia’s upcoming production of Griffith Opera on the Beach – Aida, taking place on  September 21 – 30. For more information and to book visit opera.org.au