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Four Saints in Three Acts

Merlyn, The Coopers Malthouse
30 Sep 2016 - 1 Oct 2016

Charmingly irrational opera featuring talented young artists and quirky 3D scenery.

After a choral introduction to thirty saints, a series of tableaux featuring St Teresa II unfolds on the steps of a Cathedral. At a garden party near Barcelona there is a dance, a game and a heavenly vision through a telescope. In a monastery garden, saints discuss monastic life and see a vision. In heaven, the saints remember their earthly life. 

Composed by Virgil Thomson and with zany joyous poetry by celebrated writer Gertrude Stein, Four Saints in Three Acts makes for charmingly irrational theatre. Inspired by jazz, gospel and folk music this surreal work about 16th century Spanish saints directed by Nancy Black will feature youth opera performers, a youth orchestra conducted by Phoebe Briggs (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street) and 3D scenic imagery (The Flying Dutchman) devised by Deakin Motion.Lab under the direction of Dr Kim Vincs.


A unique theatrical dining experience, a rare dinner with the Saints.

In what promises to be one of the most talked about experiences of the 2016 season, Victorian Opera will present a unique theatrical dinner following the performance of Four Saints in Three Acts on the stage of the Malthouse Theatre. In a separate ticketed event, Dinner with the Saints, guests will be treated to a menu inspired by the Alice B. Toklas cookbook prepared in consultation with respected chef Gay Bilson. 

Then, in a nod to the legendary salon parties hosted by Gertrude Stein and her muse, cook and lover Alice B. Toklas, guests will be treated to a ‘visitation’ from the luminary couple, with Alice B. Toklas brought to life by distinguished soprano Merlyn Quaife and Gertrude Stein played by National treasure and singer, the legendary Robyn Archer.


Merlyn, The Coopers Malthouse

Friday 30 September 2016  3pm, 7:30pm
Saturday 1 October 2016    7:30pm

Cast & Crew

Composer Virgil Thomson
Librettist Gertrude Stein
Director Nancy Black
Co-Director Dr Kim Vincs
Conductor Phoebe Briggs
Digital Scenography Deakin Motion.Lab* under the direction of Dr Kim Vincs


Victorian Opera Youth Opera


Victorian Opera Chamber Orchestra

*With research supported by the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Projects Funding Scheme (project number LP140100742)

Victorian Opera's 2016 production of Four Saints in Three Acts. Photo: Charlie Kinross


“★★★★ Ambitious project proves heaven sent.”

“Ever adventurous, Victorian Opera’s latest youth opera project delivers the Australian premiere of an old work with an enduring capacity to confound, amuse, irritate and provoke.”

“By God, that Four Saints in Three Acts is good. Nonsense hasn't quite ever left me so entranced and uplifted.”

Presented in partnership with

the Deakin Motion.Lab and supported by the Australian Research Council