Ballarat-born tenor comes home

David Hobson. Picture: Kate Healy.
David Hobson. Picture: Kate Healy.

Ballarat-born tenor David Hobson began his career as an opera singer playing catch up.

Hobson was “hawking” a rock opera at the Victorian Arts Centre when the producer he was pitching to put an offer to him in turn.

Hobson initially rejected what would become his big break – playing Frederic in the Broadway version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance.

The tenor and composer will perform at Her Majesty’s Theatre next Friday.

“I was playing in rock bands and I was hawking a demo tape around of a rock opera I’d written. I was just playing the piano and singing a couple of scenes from it and my voice was heard that way - and one of the prospective producers was with Victoria State Opera and they said, ‘you’ve got an operatic voice you should be a singer’ and I said ‘I’m not interested’,” Hobson said.

“I was more intent on being a composer. I liked being behind the scenes, I liked the idea of the candle burning and staying up till late at night.”

The producers eventually convinced him to take the part with the argument it would complement his writing career. 

Hobson began “playing catch up”, learning languages and embarking on an overseas scholarship. 

“I was given the understudy of the major role which is kind of bizarre because I never auditioned to get into the industry.

“I thought I’d do the first bit and then I went on in the role and the artistic director and general manager saw me in the role and coerced me into doing more and all of a sudden I was an opera singer and then the Australian Opera saw me and overseas people saw me and that’s how it happened.” 

Hobson says Ballarat set him up for a career in music. 

“By the time I’d done all that (formal training), I’d already done television, stage shows, recordings all within Ballarat because it offers so much, even back then in the seventies because it’s a culturally rich place to grow up in and there were a lot of people who were aspirational artistically.”

David Hobson will sing a collection of arias in a performance spanning opera, music theatre and contemporary music, accompanied by guitarist David Cameron. 

An Intimate Evening with David Hobson is on Friday, May 26 at 7.30pm.

Tickets are $65 and $55 for concession. To book visit