Carriageworks and Sydney Chamber Opera Present the Landmark World Premiere Oscar and Lucinda | Media Release 1 May 2019

Composer Elliott Gyger reunites with librettist Pierce Wilcox for Carriageworks resident company Sydney Chamber Opera to transform Peter Carey’s beloved novel Oscar and Lucinda into a new Australian opera from 27 July – 3 August 2019. Directed by Opera Queensland Artistic Director and CEO Patrick Nolan, the work reimagines the love story between the orphaned proto-feminist industrialist and the man who believes he is touched by God. Having nothing in common, except their addiction to gambling, Oscar and Lucinda find each other in colonial-era Sydney with a wild dream: to build a cathedral of pure glass, and to walk it into the Australian outback.

Carriageworks Director, Programs, Daniel Mudie Cunningham said: ‘Carriageworks’ commitment to commissioning and supporting new work by resident artists continues with this bold adaptation by one of the most exciting opera companies working in Australia today, Carriageworks’ Resident Company, Sydney Chamber Opera.

Peter Carey’s beloved novel is one of Australia’s artistic triumphs, winner of the Booker and Miles Franklin Awards.

Elliott Gyger is the composer who gave World War I phantasmagoric life in Sydney Chamber Opera’s Fly Away Peter. In July 2019, he will reunite with librettist Pierce Wilcox to transform Carey’s kaleidoscopic tale into a new landmark of Australian opera.

Sydney Chamber Opera Artistic Director Jack Symonds describes developing the work and composer Elliott Gyger: ‘It was with the greatest pleasure that SCO asked Elliott and Pierce to write us a second opera, after their phenomenal success with Fly Away Peter. Elliott is one of this country’s greatest composers, with an originality, refinement and savage beauty that sounds like no one else. Seeing the score develop into our most ambitious and large-scale new work, filled with astonishingly vivid characters, colours and sounds has been a deeply exciting experience. Elliott has created a modern Australian epic without ever relying on the tired clichés of Australiana – a feat worth celebrating as we interrogate the history and stories that make up this complex country. Give him one instrument and he’ll make a world; give him 16 instruments and 6 singers and he’ll create a universe.’

On librettist Pierce Wilcox, he said: ‘Pierce has grown up with SCO, and we have in turn been rewarded with libretti of laser-like precision, wit and variety. We are so proud to call him an artistic associate and his words have inspired every composer he has worked with to new heights.’

Oscar and Lucinda will be conducted by Sydney Chamber Opera Artistic Director Jack Symonds, with set and costume design by Anna Tregloan and lighting design by Damien Cooper.

The opera will be performed in two acts with soprano Jessica Aszodi and tenor Brenton Spiteri in the title roles, with a powerful ensemble of performers in bass Jeremy Kleeman, baritone Simon Lobelson, baritone Mitchell Riley and soprano Jane Sheldon.

Director, Patrick Nolan describes: ‘Oscar and Lucinda is a bonfire of the passions within every human soul. It is impossible, romantic, and visionary. Like a church made of glass.’

Music by Elliott Gyger
Libretto by Pierce Wilcox
After the novel by Peter Carey
A co-production and co-commission of Sydney Chamber Opera, Opera Queensland and Victorian Opera

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