Isabela Calderon is a singer and performer currently studying at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. Last year, she participated in the Victorian Opera Youth Chorus Ensemble (VOYCE) and starred in the Australian opera, The Riders –all whilst completing her VCE.
Many publications, including the Australian Book Review, Arts Hub and the Herald Sun, listed The Riders as a standout in national theatre production of 2014. It was nominated for several Green Room Awards, and won ‘Best New Australian Opera’. The opera dramatises one man’s search for his wife who has mysteriously disappeared, and Isabela played his daughter Billie.
“The casting process for The Riders was fairly quick,” she says. Isabela was already known at Victorian Opera through VOYCE. VOYCE is a chorus exclusively for teenagers aged 13-18 where they are taught operatic and musical theatre repertoire. It is also the only youth chorus within Australia. From there, Isabela was asked to audition for the role. A couple of days after, she received an email saying that Richard Mills, the Artistic Director at Victorian Opera, wanted her for Bille.
Isabela attributes her success to her involvement in VOYCE. “I was able to audition and get the role of Billie because of it,” she says. Despite being in year 12 and having the role requirements significantly close to her exams, she was able to keep on top of her work and not become too overwhelmed. That is because the Victorian Opera were extremely supportive and made sure she wasn’t missing too much school. “They were a lovely company that always tried their best to look after me,” she praises.
At the moment, Isabela isn’t working on anything. She is, however, a member of the choir at Trinity College.. And what does she do when it comes to her spare time? “I like to watch trashy TV on Netflix or listen to music and just completely zone out”. A lot of us can probably relate. She is inspired by Barry Ryan and Jessica Aszodi, who played her parents in The Riders. “They are generous people who work so hard – and have incredible voices,” she gushes. “They taught me so much about how to perform and use my voice effectively.”
After she finishes her undergraduate degree, Isabela hopes to enter the Masters of Music (Opera Performance) program with the Victorian Opera and the University. She then hopes to perform with an opera company, or be involved with musical theatre. “I have studied classical singing since I was 7 years old,” she reminisces. Let’s see what she has in store for the musical theatre and opera sphere in the future.