Friday, July 7, 2023


Sarah Mann, soprano

Ella Luhtasaari, piano


Milan Kolundzija, clarinet

Alira Prideaux, soprano

Sitiveni Talei, baritone

Larry Sitsky Recital Room 6 July


Reviewed by Len Power


Promised as an evening of “mainstream artsy and operatic hits”, the audience was treated to a well-planned program of mostly well-known operatic works cleverly arranged to flow effortlessly from one to the other.

Sarah Mann, soprano, is an accomplished performer, teacher and administrator. She has performed over twenty-six principal soprano roles in opera, operetta and oratorio, as well as performances with state and national arts organizations.

She teaches classical singing at the ANU School of Music and is researching singing perception. This concert is part of her PhD project exploring the ways the operatic singing technique is perceived and processed by listeners.

Ella Luhtasaari, piano, and Sarah Mann , soprano

Ella Luhtasaari is a collaborative pianist and teacher based in Canberra. She completed bachelor degrees in music and psychology at the ANU and completed post-graduate studies in Austria and the UK. She is a vocal and language coach at the ANU School Of Music.

Each of the songs were fine examples of operatic works that affect an audience through verbal and non-verbal elements, creating a sense of colours, textures, locations and emotions.

Opening with “Juliet’s Waltz” from Gounod’s “Roméo et Juliette”, Sarah Mann conveyed the joyful moment of youth inherent in the song.  It was followed by Messaien’s “Vocalise étude”, in which the emotional sense was produced by this melodic work without words.

Milan Kolundzija and his clarinet then joined the singer with Schubert’s “Shepherd On The Rock”.  Mood, thoughts and imaginary conversation were evoked by this work, as well as the coming of spring.  Hauntingly played and sung, this work was a highlight of the concert.

Other colourful and emotional works on the program ranged from Handel’s 18th century “Morrai si l’empia tua testa” from “Rodelinda” to Elena-Kats-Chernin’s “Eliza’s Aria” from the ballet “Wild Swans” of 2002, all of them superbly sung by Mann, who seemed to slip effortlessly into the emotional world of each song. Luhtasaari’s accompaniment on piano was excellent throughout.

For the rousing “To part is such sweet sorrow” from “Die Fledermaus” by Johann Strauss, Mann was joined by Alira Prideaux, soprano, and Sitiveni Talei, (baritone). Together, they gave this bright work its full sense of good cheer, the perfect end to a highly enjoyable concert.


Photo by Len Power

This review was first published by Canberra CityNews digital edition on 7 July 2023.

Len Power's reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’ programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at