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"A lively palette of 1950s colours, patterns and textures fill the space.”

Simone RomaniukDesigner - Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

There is a significant history to Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, both in the memories of an Australian audience, but also in the story and lives of the characters themselves.

The naturalistic approach to the design of this opera aims to sketch in the detail of the previous sixteen years of the characters’ story.

A lively palette of 1950s colours, patterns and textures fill the space, brightening a somewhat shabby former boarding house.

Olive’s life and Emma’s before her have played out in this house. The layout is a typical Melbourne terrace; a small porch looks out onto the street, bedrooms upstairs with an old kitchen out the back. Bubba, growing up next door, skips in and out through the back door which is never locked.

With layers of personal history, the old terrace is filled with furniture collected over decades and overflows with ornaments and mementos of Olive’s life. The kewpie dolls of sixteen summers adorn the walls.

When Roo and Barney arrive for their annual visit, the house glows in anticipation of the summer season. They drink and smoke, the party detritus is scattered around the house as ashtrays overflow and beer bottles collect around the pot plants.

Inevitably, the celebration fades, and the ordinary shabbiness is revealed with a sudden final realisation that all the brightness is just glitter and dust.