First an iconic novel by Tim Winton, then a play, followed by a critically acclaimed miniseries, now Cloudstreet will receive the operatic treatment it so deserves, in a world premiere season at Adelaide’s Her Majesty’s Theatre from 12 May 2016.
Set in the mid-20th century, Cloudstreet! tells the story of two Western Australian families – the Lambs and the Pickles, and the extraordinary events that ultimately bind them together – often hilarious, sometimes harrowing. It is the story of Fish Lamb and the fate that makes him the link between two worlds, and of his brother Quick, and Rose, the girl across the hall. It is a story of love in all its forms, but most of all, it’s about catharsis and redemption.
Presented by State Opera of South Australia (SOSA), in association with Adelaide Festival Centre, internationally renowned director Gale Edwards, SOSA Artistic Director Timothy Sexton and respected composer George Palmer form the creative powerhouse behind this groundbreaking new work.
Sexton says it’s a monumental and truly serious commitment for all involved. “Cloudstreet! is the culmination of a collective process which began more than five years ago and it will continue to evolve right up to the last possible moment. With beautiful music by George Palmer, it is set to become a classic in its own right,” says Sexton.
Edwards is passionate about creating a uniquely Australian voice in the world of contemporary opera, and says Cloudstreet embraces the Australian vernacular and breathes new musical life into this quintessential Australian story.
“We love the classics and always will, but we need to find a new voice for opera in Australia and I would like to believe that this has the possibility to be an opera that can go out to the world and truly represent us, our voice,” says Edwards.
Palmer’s evocative harmonies and uniquely Australian songs capture the sometimes hilarious, sometimes harrowing lives of two families that form the basis of this famous story – the Pickles and the Lambs. The story focuses on the fate of Fish Lamb, played by multi-award winning tenor Nicholas Jones.
“I wanted to write an opera that was unmistakably Australian. The characters sing with an Australian accent, and they use words like ‘ning-nong’, ‘dill’ and ‘dunny’,” said Palmer. “The characters of Cloudstreet demand a very different kind of music: they don’t sing in that highly sophisticated, intellectualised style, they communicate in a much more direct, accessible way.”
With Timothy Sexton leading the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in the pit, Cloustreet! also features Don Bemrose as Bob Crab, Antoinette Halloran as Oriel, Desiree Frahn as Rose, Joanna McWaters as Dolly, Pelham Andrews as Lester, Barry Ryan as Sam and Nicholas Cannon as Quick.
The three-hour production also features haunting underwater footage and still images of the three ethereal “spirit girls”, projected onto the stage, adding a cinematic edge to traditional opera. In a wonderful symbiosis, 2016 marks the 25th anniversary of the novel – which won the Miles Franklin Literary Award and NBC Banjo Award, as well as SOSA’s 40th anniversary.
Her Majesty’s Theatre, 58 Grote Street, Adelaide
Season: 12 – 21 May 2016
Bookings: 13 12 46 or online at: www.bass.net.au
For more information, visit: www.saopera.sa.gov.au for details.
Image: courtesy of State Opera of South Australia