Broadway Musical Essays

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Australian composers have been caught up in the many currents that have engulfed classical music during this period.

Australian composers have been caught up in the many currents that have engulfed classical music during this period.One of the major issues confronting Australian opera composers is the lack of repeat productions of their works.This varied subject matter has demanded an equally eclectic musical idiom.

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No such controversy surrounded George Palmer’s version of Cloudstreet (2016), couched largely in a music theatre idiom.

There seems to be a kinder reception for the more recent operas.

And if you’re honest, you would have to admit you’re pretty vague about what the small print means.

-Novelist William Mc Ilvaney In 1986, the Adelaide Festival staged an operatic adaptation of Nobel Prize-winning writer Patrick White’s 1957 novel Voss, a pivotal work in the Australian literary canon.

Voss might be seen as a watershed in the evolution of Australian opera - a large-scale work tackling critical social and political issues.

In the three decades since then, contemporary operas have tackled an eclectic range of topics, from book adaptations, including Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet and The Riders, to the Lindy Chamberlain case and the murder of Maria Korp by her husband in Midnight Son.

Richard Mills and Peter Goldsworthy’s Doll was premiered in Melbourne in 1995 to a mixed reception.

Controversy dogged Mills’s large-scale Batavia (2001) as well, with the critical reaction prompting a defence of the work by librettist Goldsworthy in newspapers and other outlets.

While their view might be somewhat optimistic, the range of new American opera is, on any level, impressive.

Although a much smaller country operatically speaking, this is not true for Australia.


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