Barbara Graham was exposed to opera and classical music before she was even born. Her mother, a singing teacher, gave lessons while pregnant with Barbara and played music to her throughout her pregnancy.
The chances of Graham embracing music were always pretty high, she says.
In fact, singing was never really a conscious decision, she says.
"It was just something I knew I was going to do.
Graham, 28, plays the role of Sophie in the Opera in Days Bay's Der Rosenkavalier, a comic opera with music by Richard Strauss.
It's the third time she has performed with the company. Usually they are held in producer Rhona Fraser's Days Bay garden. This production will be staged at Wellesley College's new auditorium.
"It's a fantastic space," she says. "There's a huge bay window at the end so the audience will see all the musicians and performers with a backdrop of this beautiful ocean view." Graham, of Northland, Wellington, says she has sung several of the love duets Sophie and Octavian, her character's love interest, in concert, but never in the opera itself.
"It's always been my dream to play this part so when Rhona asked me I was thrilled." Graham's career has seen her travel throughout Europe including a year-long stint in Paris in 2012 where she studied at the La Schola Cantorum of music and won a clutch of singing awards.
A graduate of the PWC Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artist programme with New Zealand Opera, Graham also works as an editorial assistant at a Wellington publishing house.
Der Rosenkavalier will feature a chamber orchestra of 16 musicians, including hired guns from the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Orchestra New Zealand.
It also stars Fraser in the part of the Marschallin, James Clayton as Baron Ochs of Lerchenau and Bianca Andrew as Octavian.
The opera, translated from German into English, has been cut to a slightly more manageable two-and-a-half hours.
- Der Rosenkavalier, Thursday, August 21, Saturday, August 23 and Sunday, August 24, 7pm, Wellesley College, Days Bay, Wellington.
- The Dominion Post