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A Love That Never Was - and the relationships that endure

Culture

In preparation for his Opera Queensland recital debut this Friday in Secret: A Love That Never Was, Chinese-Australian opera star Kang Wang became reacquainted with his adopted home of Queensland.

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In the performance, Wang, accompanied by pianist John Woods, sketches the grief of two lovers who drift apart and are compelled to navigate the pain of unrequited love.

Secret: A Love That Never Was explores an expansive repertoire, including songs by composers including Tosti, Donaudy, and Maristella.

“The reason why art and music exist is for people to tell stories in an organic way and I have put these songs together to portray a loss of love and the secrets that come from that,” Wang told InQueensland.

Wang said because of the importance of emotion in the fabric of the performance, it was a challenge to keep those emotions in check.

Secret will be a part of Opera Queensland’s 2021 Studio Series, which chief executive Patrick Nolan said provided an opportunity for audiences to discover new and beautiful music and gain insights in to the artists themselves.

No strangers to portraying emotionally complex work, Kang Wang and John Woods have cultivated this ability over a number of years working together.

“[Woods] has been there for the entire life of vocal development. He knows my voice and my style and it’s really easy to work together. He knows all my mistakes and helps me perform at my best,” Wang said.

Wang told InQueensland that upon his return to Brisbane, he moved into Woods’s apartment, using the space as a consistent space to rehearse for the show ahead, mirroring the environment of his parents’ home which was also filled with music.

Originally from Harbin, China, Wang’s parents were both successful opera singers, so opera has always been in his blood.

“My father is a tenor, and my mother is a soprano. I had always grown up surrounded by music,” he said.

He pursued a career in IT until the age of 23 when he was encouraged to pursue a career in singing, moving to Brisbane and attending the Griffith Conservatorium.

From there, Wang travelled internationally, collecting accolades and performing shows in a different city every month, but COVID-19 stalled this reality.

“When COVID hit I lost a lot of work and was stuck in London for a long time. Eventually, I secured a ticket back to Brisbane because I have always considered Queensland to be a second home,” Wang said.

The cancellations and sudden halt to his career sent Wang into a dark place, but upon returning to Brisbane he found a new love for exercise and lost 45kg in seven months.

“It has been quite a drastic change but I feel great,” he said.

Wang told InQueensland that returning to Brisbane has been a great privilege.

“I truly think Brisbane is one of the most liveable cities. I love the nature, I love the weather, and the pace of the city, you don’t have to queue up for anything,” he said.

Wang said that the laidback attitude translated to the audiences, with Queenslanders more positive and warmer than international audiences.

“In some cities, you may think you have done the best performance of your career and the audience will look at you with a blank face,” he said.

Wang told InQueensland that audiences are more open and receptive here, but those attending Secret: A Love That Never Was, should be prepared.

“My advice for audiences is bring some tissues. A story based on unrequited love is one that many people go through, so I hope to stir up a lot of those emotions,” he said.

Wang said that he drew some personal inspiration in preparation for the show.

“I may have had some experience with unrequited love… but that is why the show is called Secret,” he said.

The recital runs between 26 and 27 February. To purchase tickets to Secret: A Love That Never Was visit Opera Queensland’s website.

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