Livestream offers first look at new opera

17 Oct 2017

On 27 October 2017 Victorian Opera presents a livestreamed event which will offer an insight into the process of developing a new opera.

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The creation of each new work at Victorian Opera goes through a number of stages:

  1. The concept
  2. The pre-production phase
  3. The creation
  4. The staging
  5. The rehearsals
  6. The premiere

Three Tales is a new Victorian Opera commission based on French writer Gustave Flaubert’s Trois Contes, a celebrated collection of three short stories published in 1877. Flaubert is one of France’s greatest writers, known for his realism and mastery of the French language. With his meticulous attention to rhythms and harmonies of language, exacting use of expression and focus on the minutiae, Flaubert turned simple social stories into works of art which lend themselves to an operatic interpretation.

As part of the pre-production phase, Three Tales was adapted by renowned playwright and librettist Daniel Keene. Working from Keene’s libretto, leading Australian composers have written music to transform each tale into a chamber opera. The works are currently in the creation phase and the livestreamed event will document, as well as contribute, to the development process.

The event will feature performances of excerpts of the three new works which will be the culmination of a week-long workshop – the first opportunity the composers have had to work with singers and musicians on their compositions. All the composers will be on hand to explain their creative processes and answer questions from the audience.

Musician Zac Hurren takes on the first work A Simple Heart (Un Coeur Simple), the tale of a selfless 19th century servant in the Normandy of Flaubert’s childhood. Hurren is a saxophonist and leading talent in the Australian jazz world.

Dermot Tutty is composing The Legend of Saint Julian the Hospitaller (La Légende de Saint-Julien L’Hospitalier), a medieval legend that bears similarities to the Oedipus story. Tutty is a Melbourne composer, choral director and educator.

Stefan Cassomenos is a pianist and member of PLEXUS who has been writing music since he was seven. He has performed with many of Australia’s major orchestras and is particularly acclaimed for his performances of chamber music. He is composing Herodias (Hérodias), a retelling of the John the Baptist and Salome story.

The excerpts will be performed by sopranos Judith Dodsworth and Kathryn Radcliffe, tenor Brenton Spiteri and bass baritone Matthew Thomas. They will be accompanied by PLEXUS, an ensemble of Melbourne musicians – Monica Curro (violin), Philip Arkinstall (clarinet) and Stefan Cassomenos (piano) – as well as percussionist Brent Miller.

Audience members are encouraged to send in questions for the composers via social media using the hashtag #VOThreeTales. As this is a work-in-progress it also gives the opportunity for you to provide feedback which will directly contribute to the development of this new work.

Three Tales will be staged as part of Victorian Opera’s Season 2019.

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The livestream was broadcast on Friday 27 October.

Three Tales is supported by the Robert Salzer Foundation and Victorian Opera New Work Syndicate.