While others were celebrating Father’s Day this year, Lake Macquarie opera singer Jessica Blunt was boarding a plane bound for London, eager to begin her studies at the Royal Academy of Music.
The 25-year-old, former St Francis Xavier’s College graduate, is on the cusp of beginning the next step of her already-impressive career.
Bidding farewell to her Valentine-based family, the well-travelled, well-educated vocalist will soon add yet another string to her bow, in a craft she says she has the utmost respect for.
“Opera really is for everyone,” Jessica says.
“It can seem unattainable to some people but it really does transcend being human. It’s the telling of stories regardless of gender, age or language.
“For me it’s a way of connecting with a huge group of people.
“When I’m on stage and the conductor begins, and the orchestra starts playing I feel like I’m at home, it’s very comfortable.
“I feel a connection with the people there, and I feel like we’re all creating art together.”
She hasn’t always felt this way about the 16th century artform however.
While in her teens, the girl with a voice described by her singing teachers as “stemming from swimmers’ lungs”, preferred a more popular type of music.
“I used to write my own songs and play them on piano and sing,” she says.
“I was about 14 and it was all pop music back then.”
It soon became apparent however that “big songs” were more her style.
“I’ve always loved singing and performing and it was after a YPT performance that I was asked if I had a singing coach.
“That was when Sue Hart became my first singing teacher,” Jessica said.
“She told me that I had really strong lungs and the perfect body shape for a big voice and that to train it I had to commit to it.”
Jessica has since completed a Bachelor of Music in Performance and Voice at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney.
Under the tutelage of Maree Ryan AM Jessica completed the four year degree and was then accepted into the Master of Music Studies (Opera Performance), which she completed with high distinction in 2019.
During the degree Jessica was awarded scholarships to sing in Verona, Sicily, and as a soloist at New York’s Carnegie Hall.
She has since been awarded two contracts with Opera Australia, Don Giovanni at the Sydney Opera House and La Traviata- Opera on the Harbour – which sadly was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Venturing to the UK this month moves Jessica a step closer to her goal of becoming a principal opera soprano.
“To become professional, to be able to support myself financially with my voice,” that is the ultimate goal,” she says.
Her voice type means she has time to reach her potential.
“The physiology of my voice is rare and means it won’t hit its full maturity until I’m in my thirties,” she told Newcastle Weekly.
The extra time will allow Jessica to devote time to her other love – academia.
The grand-daughter of former University of Newcastle Chancellor, Professor Trevor Waring AM, Jessica says she “can’t get enough of learning”.
“I’d love to do a PHD one day, music or voice related of course. It’s something I’ve always been passionate about.”
For now, she will hit the books and train her craft at what is widely regarded as one of the top five music schools in the world.
Already comfortable performing arias in French, German and Italian, the talented young woman from Lake Macquarie is once again set to spread her wings overseas.
“I’m so ready for this,” she says.
Get all the latest Newcastle news, sport, entertainment, lifestyle, competitions and more delivered straight to your inbox with the Newcastle Weekly Daily Newsletter. Sign up here.