”“The opera is haunting, funny, nostalgic, tragic, elegiac, and familiar. And, like all great art, it provides a mirror to our times.”Stuart MaunderArtistic Director
Artistic Director of State Opera, Stuart Maunder speaks about why he chose to include Summer of the Seventeenth Doll in State Opera’s 2020 season.
State Opera South Australia is committed to supporting the creation and development of Australian works. Back in 2018, State Opera committed to presenting new productions of some very important Australian works under the banner the Lost Operas of Oz. It is important we embrace the great breadth of work out there, and in our little corner of the world especially.
Every opera company worth its salt must perform the great canon of operas. We don’t shy away from that great challenge, but we also don’t shy away from the equally important challenge of producing Australian works of the 20th and 21st centuries. It is important that Australian creative voices be heard. Part of our mission is therefore to produce something that is Australian and has an Australian voice.
Last year we proudly produced Boojum! (Composer Martin/Lyrics Peter Wesley Smith), Christina’s World (Composer Ross Edwards/Lyrics Dorothy Hewett), and Madeline Lee (Composer John Haddock/Lyrics John Haddock with Michael Campbell). Each opera was directed, designed, conducted, and performed by Australians.
In 2020 we decided to elevate the Australian works to the mainstage, planning a new production of Summer of the Seventeenth Doll by Richard Mills and Peter Goldsworthy. based on the iconic play of the same name by Ray Lawler.
Originally produced in 1996 by Victoria State Opera ‘Doll-the opera’ succeeds in translating one of the great Australian plays, one of the great Australian stories, to the operatic stage. Rather than simply cutting the play, librettist Peter Goldsworthy has fashioned a libretto which allows Richard Mills’ gloriously evocative score to ‘sing’, creating a soundscape of the 1950s as we see inside these iconic characters. We can all remember and recognise the ‘Doll’s archetypal Aussies though memory, photos, or family stories. The opera is, in turn, haunting, funny, nostalgic, tragic, elegiac, and familiar. And, like all great art, it provides a mirror to our times. I cannot think of a better vehicle to illustrate State Opera’s commitment to telling the Australian story, in words and music of our own time and place.
See you at the opera!