Creating new operas
is, of course, a necessity for an opera company but so often in the push
to create new operas many great works only receive one outing. We will
shine the spotlight on three fine Australian works in 2019. Each opera
is directed, designed, conducted and performed by Australians.
Conductor Warwick Stengaards, champion of Australian works will conduct
all three operas.
Their first Lost Opera is a production of Martin and Peter
Wesley-Smith’sBoojum! Originally premiered by State Opera in 1986, this
“light-hearted but deadly-serious choral fantasy” features a young
Adelaide cast and is directed by the Artistic Director of the OzAsia
Festival, Joseph Mitchell. The production is designed by Simone
‘Boojum!’ will also give our winter-school students a chance to
‘strut their stuff’ on the stage of the Dunstan Playhouse. And that is
just part of State Opera’s new Education and Outreach programme.
Later in the year, the historic Queen’s Theatre will play host to two
powerful operas. The first is Christina’s World by Ross Edwards, a 1985
opera with a libretto by the great Dorothy Hewett. Christina’s World
will be directed by young South Australian director Nicholas Cannon and
designed by Melbourne based designer Christina Logan Bell.
The second opera is the haunting Madeleine Lee by John Haddock, with a
libretto by John Haddock and Michael Campbell which premiered in 2004.
This opera will be directed by Douglas McNicol, who also sang in the
original Australian production. The production is designed by Adelaide
born Designer Candice McAllister.
The idea for the Lost Operas of Oz was inspired by the experience I
had directing three musicals for the Sydney based Company Neglected
Musicals. In that scenario one quickly brings together an extremely
talented cast, throw around some ideas, and get the chance to really
look at a work, giving new life to the piece. So why not give some
Australian operas the same treatment? There are hundreds of Australian
operas out there, worthy of reassessment. It is time we put them in
front of new audiences.
Every opera company worth its salt must perform the great canon of
operas and we are proud to perform Butterflies and Traviatas and
Bohemes. We don’t shy away from that great challenge, but we also don’t
shy away from the equally important challenge of producing Australian
works of the 20th century. Our credo is to get opera out there, to do as
much opera as we can, for as many people as we can. It is important
that Australian creative voices be heard. Part of our mission is
therefore to produce something that is new, that is Australian and has
an Australian voice.
At State Opera, we firmly believe that as custodians of government
funding as well as benefaction funds from our valued supporters we must
create work for artists, creative teams and technician and give
opportunities for people to enjoy as many different styles of opera as
we can produce. We believe we must programme for the largest possible
audience, many different styles and subjects. These Lost operas of Oz
are all challenging in different ways but all are vibrant theatrically
and musically and incredibly immediate. It is important we embrace the
great breadth of work out there, and in our little corner of the world
especially. Thanks in advance for giving them a go.
State Opera SA