Tag Archives: Sydney Chamber Opera


Production photography by Zan Wimberley

OSCAR AND LUCINDA , the latest production by Sydney Chamber Opera is co- produced and commissioned by Opera Queensland and Victorian Opera. Based on the book by Peter Carey with music by Elliott Gyger and libretto by Pierce Wilcox it is a strong , striking production with wonderful performances.

The book subverts and questions Australian colonialism and society using misfits Oscar and Lucinda as a prism for analysis. We follow the two main characters growing up – while Lucinda’s in Australia, on purloined land, Oscar’s is in England where a dominating, complicated relationship with his father and a troubled calling to be a minister mean Oscar becomes a restless, rather tormented adult. They first meet at the end of Act 1 in a terrific climax. We see how the two of them are brought together by their compulsive gambling that ultimately leads to their destruction.

Gyger’s. intricate, challenging score as played by the dynamic orchestra conducted by Jack Symonds is complicated and while not quite atonal is quite definitely modernist – mostly sharp and spiky but with some quieter lyrical passages and some fractured, recurring motifs. Continue reading OSCAR AND LUCINDA @ CARRIAGEWORKS


The 2019 Sydney Festival has started with a bang and one of the major events is the Australian premiere of La Passion de Simone . Written by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, with a libretto in French by Amin Maaloufit it is presented at Carriageworks by Sydney Chamber Opera in association with The Song Company.

Musically and visually superb, it is a powerful and hypnotic production.Directed by Imara Savage it looks at the life of Simone Weil , who was an intellectual, Marxist and pacifist, philosopher, political activist and mystic whose despair at the course of world events led her to starve herself and pass away in 1943 aged just 34. Weil died of tuberculosis after weakening herself by fasting in sympathy with the starving people of France, having spent the preceding decade travelling through Nazi Germany and revolutionary Spain in an attempt to understand the causes and nature of oppressive régimes.

After involvement in the Spanish Civil War, Weil, a secular Jew, converted to Christianity, fleeing France with her family during World War II and working with the French Resistance from London.

The show is based in the Passion Play tradition with episodes of Weil’s life linked to the Stations of the Cross. One scene includes how she worked for a while in a factory among the oppressed workers then rejected the robotic, virtually forced labour. Continue reading LA PASSION DE SIMONE @ CARRIAGEWORKS


Banner Image: Thelma Plum, Solid Ground artist-in-residence for 2018. Image: Cole Benetts

Carriageworks today announced 1.2 million visitors will engage with the Carriageworks Program in 2017 whilst unveiling a dynamic program for 2018 spanning contemporary art, dance, performance, music, screen, food and ideas. In 2018 the Artistic Program will support 690 artists and will present 70 projects, including 10 world premieres, 17 international works and 17 new Australian commissions.

Highlights include three large-scale, site-specific exhibitions by international contemporary artists Katharina Grosse (Germany), Ryoji Ikeda (Japan) and Nick Cave (USA), as well as three world premiere works by Carriageworks Resident Companies: Sydney Chamber Opera, Marrugeku and Force Majeure, and the presentation of leading cultural events including the 21st Biennale of Sydney, the 2018 Sydney Writers’ Festival and Sydney Contemporary 2018.

In 2018 Carriageworks will continue to be home to eight artists in supported studios in the Clothing Store in partnership with UrbanGrowth NSW. From January Carriageworks will introduce 10 new food events, including masterclasses, live cooking demonstrations and continue The Night Market series presenting Australia’s very best chef’s and producers.

Carriageworks Director Lisa Havilah said: “We are excited to be bringing an extraordinary Program of international works, new commissions and large scale works to Sydney. ”  Continue reading CARRIAGEWORKS: 2018 PROGRAM AND 1.2 MILLION VISITORS IN 2017


SCO- second
Production photography by Lisa Tomasetti

Sydney Chamber Opera is currently presenting a second offering for the Sydney Festival which familiarises local audiences with the French composer Pascal Dusapin. This time the compelling piece is O MENSCH! (2008) for solo baritone and piano.

This event is part of the About an Hour series during the festival. Its focused romp through the shifting emotional reactions of one character is a dramatised cavalcade of Fredriech Nietzsche’s quite anguished poetic texts. This uninterrupted journey of self-analysis through contemporary music is not for the feint-hearted but very worth the ride.

The torments, doubts, desires and moral fragilities of the mortal illustrated by the single character on stage is given slick direction by Sarah Giles. Giles’ guidance of baritone Mitchell Riley, who is perched delicately on a small landing halfway up a set of stairs leading nowhere masterfully enhances the ebb and flow of the texts. Continue reading SYDNEY CHAMBER OPERA PRESENTS O MENSCH! @ CARRIAGEWORKS

Sydney Chamber Opera: Mayakovsky

A scene from the production Mayakovsky at Carriageworks. Pic Zan Wimberley
A scene from the production Mayakovsky at Carriageworks. Pic Zan Wimberley

One of the most unusual works I have seen in a while, the world premiere of MAYAKOVSKY, composed by Michael Smetanin and libretto by Alison Croggon, is given a powerful, striking performance at Carriageworks by the Sydney Chamber Opera.

Electronic music is combined with jazz and amazing singing (among other styles) in the eclectic, fractured and disjointed, very contemporary score. It combines a small woodwind and brass ensemble with guitar, piano, percussion and electronics and was led by conductor and pianist Jack Symonds who navigated the complex and difficult score with excellent focus.

Continue reading Sydney Chamber Opera: Mayakovsky