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.’