Howling Girls | Media Release

January 18, 2018

Sydney, Australia: Carriageworks and Sydney Chamber Opera (SCO) present The Howling Girls, a genre-defying, world premiere work by award-winning Australian composer Damien Ricketson and visionary director Adena Jacobs in collaboration with renowned soprano Jane Sheldon presented at Carriageworks from 28 March until 7 April 2018.

Carriageworks Director, Lisa Havilah commented, ‘This groundbreaking production from Carriageworks Resident Company, Sydney Chamber Opera continues Carriageworks’ commitment to supporting new work by the most exciting opera company working in Australia today.’ 

The Howling Girls investigates the effects of mass hysteria and will feature a nearly wordless libretto. The solo vocal performance by Jane Sheldon will be accompanied by a chorus of teenage girls and and a detailed electronic score incorporating sounds from traditional instruments, transformed human vocals, and from rare and obscure whistles and aspirating devices. The immersive sound, designed by Bob Scott, will also feature Sydney Chamber Opera’s Artistic Director, Jack Symonds, playing a Theremin part.

Drawing on the extraordinary true case of unrelated teenagers experiencing identical post-traumatic stress symptoms in New York post-9/11, this work relates to the ongoing experimental artistic practices of Ricketson and Jacobs, and unites them in a unique collaboration with a chorus of teenage girls drawn from The House That Dan Built, a music and theatre collective for women of all ages established by Danielle O’Keefe.

A major component of the amplified and immersive work is an advanced electro-acoustic realisation of a huge range of sounds created by the throat. The sound design places the listener in a cocoon of resonance, almost like an inner ear. Leading audio engineer Bob Scott is working closely with Ricketson and Sheldon to analyse and reimagine the spectrum of the human voice.

Artistic Director of SCO, Jack Symonds says, ‘This work uses cutting-edge sound technology to create a score unlike any opera. The musical language is a wholly original blend of acoustic and electronic sound; the space will be transformed. The score is quite primal in accessing the range of sounds that we make: everything from breathing, wailing and choking to very refined singing, expressed in dizzyingly inventive solo and chorus writing This world premiere celebrates this collaboration by two of Australia’s most innovative and original creative minds: in pairing Ricketson and Jacobs we anticipate that audiences will be astonished at this sublime aural and perceptual encounter.



MEDIA CONTACTS: For further information and interviews please contact Julia Barnes,, 0402 678 589 or Kym Elphinstone, 0421 106 139.

28 March, 8PM
3, 4, 6, 7 April, 8PM
Tickets $35 +booking fee 



DAMIEN RICKETSON – COMPOSER The music of Sydney-based composer Damien Ricketson explores the edges of experimental and contemporary music, cutting-edge technologies alongside traditional musical methods to produce original, multi-sensory works. Large-scale works have included FRACTURED AGAIN, a multimedia production, which toured China and featured in the Sydney Festival and THE SECRET NOISE, a hybrid music-dance piece that was awarded 2015 Arts Music Award ‘Instrumental Work of the Year’. Damien studied with renowned Dutch composer Louis Andriessen and has a PhD from the Sydney Conservatorium. Damien co-founded and for 20 years was Co-Artistic Director Ensemble Offspring, a unique arts company dedicated to innovative new music through whom much of his music has been performed. He is now the Program Leader of Composition and Music Technology at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney.

ADENA JACOBS – DIRECTOR Adena Jacobs is the artistic director of Fraught Outfit. From 2014-15 she was Resident Director at Belvoir, and in 2012 she was Female Director in Residence at Malthouse Theatre. Adena graduated with a Bachelor of Creative Arts (honours) from Melbourne University, and a Masters of Theatre Practice from VCA  where she received the Yvonne Taylor scholarship for a female director. In 2011, Adena was awarded the Melbourne International Arts Festival’s Harold Mitchell Fellowship, under the mentorship of artistic director Brett Sheehy. Directing credits include THE BACCHAE (Melbourne International Arts Festival, Dark MOFO), ANTIGONE (Malthouse Theatre), WIZARD OF OZ (Belvoir), OEDIPUS REX (Belvoir), HEDDA GABLER (Belvoir), EXIL (Sydney Chamber Opera/Carriageworks), PERSONA (Theatre Works, Malthouse Theatre, Belvoir), ON THE BODILY EDUCATION OF YOUNG GIRLS (Neon/Melbourne Theatre Company), ELEKTRA (The Dog Theatre), THE CITY (Red Stitch), THIS IS FOR YOU (La Mama) and CLEANSED (Studio45/VCA). ​As a dramaturgue, she has recently worked on THE DARK CHORUS (Lucy Guerin Inc/Melbourne International Arts Festival), RE-MAKE (Chunky Move), THE SECOND WOMAN (Next Wave Festival/ACMI) and BLUE WIZARD (Belvoir). Adena is a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab.

JACK SYMONDS- CONDUCTOR Jack Symonds is a composer, conductor and accompanist, and Artistic Director of Sydney Chamber Opera. He studied composition at the Royal College of Music, London under Kenneth Hesketh and at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music where he received the University Medal. Trained also as a pianist and trombonist, he continues to work regularly as an accompanist and pianist, as well frequently conducting his own and others’ music. Recent works include Britten’s THE RAPE OF LUCRETIA (2017), OWEN WINGRAVE (2013- Australian premiere) and THE TURN OF THE SCREW (2010), Dusapin’s PASSION and O MENSCH! (2016 Sydney Festival- Australian premieres), Romitelli’s AN INDEX OF METALS with Ensemble Offspring (2015), HIS MUSIC BURNS – Benjamin’s The Little Hill and Kurtág’s … pas à pas- nulle part… (2014 Sydney Festival), Maxwell Davies’s THE LIGHTHOUSE (2012), Kancheli’s EXIL (2013) and Jonathan Dove’s chamber version of Janacek’s THE CUNNING LITTLE VIXEN (2011- Australian premiere and 2017 for Victorian Opera). He has also conducted the world premieres of Elliott Gyger’s FLY AWAY PETER, Mary Finsterer’s BIOGRAPHICA and Michael Smetanin’s MAYAKOVSKY.

JANE SHELDON – SOPRANO Australian soprano Jane Sheldon has sung under the direction of William Christie, Charles Dutoit, Antony Walker, and Reinbert de Leeuw. Specializing in early music and active in the creation and performance of new works, she has performed with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Pinchgut Opera, Boston Camerata, Sydney Symphony, Halcyon, The Song Company, Synergy Percussion, Sydney Chamber Opera, and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. She has appeared in New York City Opera’s Vox Festival (2012), and in the MATA Festival (2014) as a member of Ekmeles. She is a member of the acclaimed touring ensemble for composer John Zorn, and has also appeared with Boston’s Sound Icon and Firebird Ensemble, and New York’s Wet Ink. In 2011 Jane was awarded Performance of the Year at the Australian Art Music Awards for The Origin Cycle, a work she co-commissioned.

ABOUT SYDNEY CHAMBER OPERA: Carriageworks’ resident company, Sydney Chamber Opera, is a fresh and youthful answer to some of the difficult questions facing today’s opera industry. Louis Garrick and Jack Symonds established SCO in 2010 and it has rapidly developed into an important and distinctive voice in the Australian music and theatre landscapes. SCO is critically acclaimed for its innovative programming, musical rigour and strong focus on compelling theatre-making. SCO makes opera with a 21st-century outlook that resonates with a new, younger audience, and that shows how vibrant and relevant the artform can be. Their program aims for a balance of specially commissioned work by leading homegrown composers, the latest international operas in their Australian premieres, song cycles and cantatas in unusual stagings, and canonical repertoire reinvigorated by the country’s most daring theatrical talent.

ABOUT CARRIAGEWORKS: Carriageworks presents a contemporary multi-arts program that engages artists and audiences with contemporary ideas and issues. The program is artist led and emerges from Carriageworks’ commitment to reflecting social and cultural diversity. The Carriageworks artistic program is ambitious, risk taking and unrelenting in its support of artists. Carriageworks is a cultural facility of the NSW Government and is supported by Arts NSW. The Carriageworks program can be viewed at