Australian Opera championed in national first digital library

Madeline-Lee-photo-by-Jason-VandepeerAustralia’s first digital library dedicated to Australian Opera has launched today thanks to State Opera South Australia.

State Opera Artistic Director, Stuart Maunder said that the national online archive will champion all aspects of Australian Opera and is an important vehicle to protect the past, present and future of these great works.

“This is a significant extension of the company’s commitment to Australian Opera which has evolved out of our Lost Operas for Oz series announced in 2019. With this digital library, there is now a home dedicated for Australian Opera to come together so that accessible for everyone,” said Maunder.

Professor Graeme Koehne AO, Director, Elder Conservatorium of Music and Australian Composer agreed, saying that creative artists, performers and audiences alike will be grateful for State Opera of South Australia’s vision in creating this archive.

“Anyone who has attended a good production of live theatre – be it an opera, ballet or play – knows just how immediate, powerful and exciting the performance can be in the moment. But no matter how memorable and robust that experience, the long-term existence of these works is also very fragile; it is the nature of live performance.”

“This digital archive of Australian operas, generously curated by Stuart, celebrates these precious expressions of Australian culture and provides them with a new life, an international audience and a permanent presence that will ensure their relevance for years to come,” said Koehne.

Critics and audiences alike have responded with delight to the unique voice that is Australian opera in all its intimate, grand, and quirky forms. “Three years ago, we launched the Lost Operas series – our commitment to put Australian opera where it belonged – on centre stage,” said Maunder.

“Productions of Madeline Lee, Christina’s World, Boojum!, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Love Burns, and The Tell-Tale Heart have been met with acclaim and have reached a place in the hearts and minds that grand cannon cannot.”

In addition to these operas, others featured on the Library at launch include: Ned Kelly, Oscar and Lucinda, Cloudstreet, Notes from Underground, Biographica, Batavia, Watershed: The Death of Doctor Duncan, with more to be added including the upcoming performance of Voss on 7 May 2022.

“Australian Opera is an art form we recognise – a voice and identity that looks and sounds like its audience, so it feels more personal. It is about extending the life of important works like Voss, so that it has a life after it gets back on the Australian stage,” said Maunder.

“This library is the legacy piece for these great Australian works, moving opera from a heritage art form to a living and valid voice that is accessible for all.”

The digital library features: Australian operas as presented before a live audience; complete recordings; librettos; production information; access and interviews with composers, librettists, designers, directors and singers and much more.

The Australian Opera Digital Library is a not for profit initiative by State Opera South Australia, with contributions for launch from; Sydney Chamber Opera, Opera Australia and Lost Opera Found Spaces. As a growing digital archive, further contributions are expected in the near future and beyond.

The Australian Opera Digital Library is now live and free to access with an account. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Robert Macfarlane, Nicholas Cannon, Eddie Muliaumaseali’i and Pelham Andrews in Madeline Lee – photo by Jason Vandepeer | Soda Street Productions