Sydney Chamber Opera x Carriageworks Retrospective

Ahead of Sydney Chamber Opera’s Australian premiere production of Awakening Shadow, we’re taking a look back at past SCO productions held at Carriageworks.


Future Remains, 2021

Presented as part of Sydney Festival last year, Future Remains was a diptych comprising the first Australian staging of Leoš Janáček’s Diary of One Who Disappeared, a lacerating song cycle of delusion and illicit desire centred on a man who would abandon everything for forbidden love.

In response to Janáček’s masterpiece, SCO’s Huw Belling (Victory Over the Sun) spun out the tale, taking it new and dangerous depths in the world premiere of Fumeblind Oracle, a partner piece in which the lone woman moves from love poetry to god-guided violence inspired by Sappho and Homer’s Iliad.

★★★★½ – Sydney Morning Herald
“Thought provoking and excellent… a rich musical work”

★★★★ – Limelight Magazine
“Janáček’s The Diary of One Who Disappeared is given an exquisite staging before a bold new work tears it to shreds in this intelligent and entertaining double bill from Sydney Chamber Opera.”


poem for a dried up river, 2021

Also presented as part of last year’s Sydney Festival, poem for a dried up river melded opera, poetry, physical theatre and art installation in a mesmerising and unique combination. Designed by Elizabeth Gadsby, the work featured 200kg of clay unrolled by Jane Sheldon throughout the performance in an act of exertion embodying a nymph’s laboured creation of a river bed.

★★★★½ – Limelight Magazine
“Jane Sheldon gives a gripping performance in a work that resonates powerfully with the climate crisis.”

★★★★ – Sydney Morning Herald
“Stirring new production…”


Breaking Glass, 2020

Set to premiere in 2020, this production of Breaking Glass was ultimately unable to be performed live in person due to the pandemic, and as such was presented as an online performance only. Co-commissioned by Carriageworks, Australian female composers seized the (virtual) stage to share four new operatic works inspired by poetry, literature, mythology, and a rare species of Australian bird.

★★★★ – Limelight Magazine
“This is a major achievement and another feather in the cap of Australia’s most inspirational modern opera company.”

★★★★ – ArtsHub
“… a riveting online experience.”


Oscar & Lucinda, 2019

In 2019, Sydney Chamber Opera brought Peter Carey’s much-loved novel, Oscar and Lucinda to the stage in a new adaptation by Pierce Wilcox. Directed by the internationally acclaimed Patrick Nolan, the work reimagined the love story between the orphaned proto-feminist industrialist and the man who believes he is touched by God.

★★★★½ – Australian Book Review
“A triumph for Sydney Chamber Opera… a company that has redefined operatic performance in Sydney and Australia.”

★★★★ – TimeOut
“Sydney Chamber Opera has proven itself to be an essential company in Sydney’s arts landscape.”


La Passion de Simone, 2019

Simone Weil bestrode the 20th century as a figure of impossible grace. Acclaimed Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho tells her story through music in this deeply spiritual work presented as part of Sydney Festival 2019. Director Imara Savage and designer Elizabeth Gadsby (the creative team behind Awakening Shadow), returned to SCO for this meditation on defiance in the face of inhumanity.

★★★★½ – Sydney Morning Herald
“Glowing pristine beauty and transcendent iridescence”

★★★★ – TimeOut
“Bold, uncompromising and musically spectacular…”


The Howling Girls, 2018

A world premiere event, in 2018 Sydney Chamber Opera presented The Howling Girls by Damien Ricketson and Adena Jacobs. The production channelled post-traumatic illness in young women weeks after the events of Sep 11 through the metaphor or a solo voice constricted, wheezing, stammering, in decay, a teenage chorus of howling girls, an absent mass, an unearthly theremin and a spectacle of fragmented bodies and voices.

★★★★½ – Sydney Morning Herald
“… a remarkable tour-de-force”

★★★★ – TimeOut
“… an essential work for anybody wanting to experience the cutting edge of the operatic artform.”


Resident Bodies Festival, 2018

Resonant Bodies is an international festival of new vocal music founded in New York in 2013 and described as “indispensable” and “essential” by the New York Times. In 2018, Sydney Chamber Opera presented the festival as an exclusive Australian iteration featuring six extraordinary singers who showcased their work over two days.

★★★★ – Sydney Morning Herald
“…a thoughtful and hugely impressive co-creation…”


The Rape of Lucretia, 2017

In 2017, Kip Williams directed another of Benjamin Britten’s work, The Rape of Lucretia. For Britten, the Roman tale of Lucretia’s tragic violation at the hands of the tyrant Tarquinius became the vessel for an operatic revolution. This production starred Anna Dowsley in the career-defining title role.

★★★★ – Sydney Morning Herald
“… a cogently fresh look at a rich though problematic piece.”

★★★★ – TimeOut
“Musically and in terms of its visual design, the production is unequivocally strong.”