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In April 2014, a tentative Helen Coleman stepped out before a panel of judges to audition for Opera Queensland’s Project Puccini – a world first initiative giving Queenslanders the opportunity to perform in a professional touring production of La boheme. Having dreamed of being part of an opera for many years, you could excuse her for being nervous…but this audition meant so much more.

Just 2 years prior, Helen faced the prospect of never being able to speak, let alone sing, again. Helen was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2012 and following surgery, her classically trained voice had been reduced to a whisper. A challenging rehabilitation period ensued until day by day and note by note her voice returned.

“One day I felt wind swept, like having climbed out of the abyss, standing there teetering on the edge…and then Project Puccini came along” she said.

On 6 April 2014, Helen Coleman auditioned successfully for Project Puccini and so began the 10-week adventure of rehearsals and training with her community chorus followed by the big night – her time to shine on stage with Opera Queensland and members of Queensland Symphony Orchestra.



“For our community, it’s been wonderful. It’s brought opera to the people and I think that everyone who came [to the performance] tonight, who had never been to an opera before, walked out of the theatre with a love of opera and classical music and an understanding of what live, real music is about, sung from the soul” Helen said.

[BELOW]: Project Puccini, Ipswich Community Chorus

Project Puccini Ipswich Community Chorus

Since then Helen has continued her inspirational journey performing, teaching and recording new music. In 2015, Helen released her first debut album and recently recorded her latest song, Flanders Fields, a musical tribute to her grandfather who served on the Western Front and the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

ABC News: Queensland singer’s tribute to her digger grandfather and the Anzac legend. For more information about Flanders Fields and Helen’s brave battle, CLICK HERE.

Project Rossini – Opera Queensland’s latest state-wide community initiative – will see around 250 Queenslanders across 8 communities, perform in a brand new production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. For more information about Project Rossini, CLICK HERE or to support this inspirational initiative, contact Partnerships Executive Nickie Warton on (07) 3735 3057 or nwarton@operaq.com.au

Project Rossini - The Barber of Seville