Welcome to the Underground Opera in The Capricorn Caves.

A soprano with your stalagmite, a baritone with your boulders, welcome to a musical experience unlike many others, underground opera in Rockhampton’s Capricorn Caves.

With Mother Nature providing near perfect acoustics, the adventurous performers from the Underground Opera Company don’t need microphones. The singers’ soaring vocals fill the caves, crevices and caverns of the subterranean theatre, and the result is a goose bump filled experience.

Welcome to the Underground Opera in The Capricorn Caves.
Welcome to the Underground Opera in The Capricorn Caves.

It’s the fifth time Llew Morris has experienced opera in the caves. “It’s an annual event for me, it’s just brilliant. To hear trained singers sing without any microphone and get the acoustics in the cave is just brilliant.”

Capricorn Caves’ majestic Cathedral Cave is turned in to a concert hall twice a year and for performers like Glenn Lorimer it’s one of their favourite venues.

“It’s the closest natural thing that you would get to a very well built and designed medieval cathedral. Modern theatres no longer have much in the way of natural acoustics anyway. Also because of the intimacy and the beauty of the surroundings it allows itself for a lot of theatre that you wouldn’t expect.”

Welcome to the Underground Opera in The Capricorn Caves.
Welcome to the Underground Opera in The Capricorn Caves.

Classics from Pagliacci, Puccini’s Turandot and Carmen right through to modern favourites mean this is not a night at the opera for aficionados only.

“It’s the closest I’ve ever got to opera (laughs). Because it’s an intimate concert with a small number of people and you’re enjoying what you’d normally have to pay big money in one of the cities to see,” says opera newcomer Matthew Jackson.

Sitting so close to the performers in the cave means the vibrations from their soaring vocals has an actual physical effect on the audience, but it’s not just the fans that get goose bumps.

“It’s such an amazing experience to have access to a cave and have a stage and it’s the sound it resonates through all the little crevices and comes back to you so you can hear yourself which is an extraordinary thing,” says Mezzo Soprano Clarissa Foulcher.

Welcome to the Underground Opera in The Capricorn Caves.
Welcome to the Underground Opera in The Capricorn Caves.

Her performance of the famous ‘Flower Duet’ with fellow soprano Judit Molnar left the audience spellbound.

When its not being used as a spectacular concert hall, Cathedral Cave is as the name suggests, a popular venue for weddings as well as the highlight of any visit to the Capricorn Caves which are a short drive to the north of Rockhampton.

Capricorn Caves are the only privately run cave system in Australia, and are owned by Ann Augusteyn.

“Opera in the caves started in 2008 with our very first performance and it was magic. As a result of the popularity it’s been a twice a year performance in our cave system,” says Ann.

“We also host different events highlighting the natural acoustics of the cave like opera. We have previously done Christmas carols and things like that as well.” says Luke Zielky a guide with Capricorn Caves.

The caves were discovered in 1882 and have been a popular tourist attraction ever since. Visitors of all adventure levels can experience the caves, from abseiling down in to the depths of the caverns, to easy walks or even wheelchair access.

It’s not the first time members of the Underground Opera Company have left their traditional theatres behind; they’ve performed in mines, tunnels, water reservoirs and even power stations. (REUTERS)