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Music Text

Libretto by Justin Fleming (E)


major roles:2S,M,T,Bar,B; minor roles:3S,2M,3T,3Bar; mixed chorus; actors;

Abbreviations (PDF)

For full details on this stagework, including synopsis and roles, please visit our Opera section.


This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.


World Premiere
Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House, Sydney
David Freeman, director / Opera Australia Orchestra and Chorus / Tahu Matheson
Press Quotes

"...inventive orchestration, kinetic rhythms, evocative yet slightly astringent sound-world and quirky character... the dazzling succession of images reminded us of the sheer brilliance and imaginative breadth of Whiteley's talent... a stimulating, rewarding and moving tribute to a remarkable Australian artist."
The Australian

"The score is exceptional. Pay close attention to the instrumentation, one of the opera’s most striking features: always unexpected, lively tipping into manic, yet joyous and inspired – an exciting reflection of Whiteley and his art. Kats-Chernin moves imaginatively through a huge range of musical styles, and each musical turn is unexpected and adventurous ... What the audience experiences is actually an energetic pacing of Whiteley’s life which makes Whiteley a multimedia opera for the times. Fleming’s words are as lively and enriched as Kats-Chernin’s music ... a wonderful piece of Australian art in tribute to a great Australian artist."

"Kats-Chernin’s finely-crafted score of variegated mood, texture, tone and style... an opera not only about genius but also about the troubled birth of something new in Australian artistic consciousness, in which it became relaxed in its sensuality, transfigured by its beauty and deeply troubled by inner contradictions... This was an opera about Sydney…”
Sydney Morning Herald

"A rich, dramatic overture sets the scene and in Act 1 there are two extraordinary love duets ... A huge undertaking that clearly shows how a brilliant composer can write for the occasion. No wonder Miss Kats-Chernin got her own standing ovation at the end ... Not an easy score to play, with so many changes of rhythm, but performed beautifully ... clearly nearly all the audience were just as mesmerised and entranced by the work as this critic. A stunning triumph for Opera Australia."

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