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ENDED: 29/04/2023



"I was moved to tears!
This performance was so powerful and delicate at the same time"

- G. L.



Conversations From Calais aims to re-humanise those affected by the refugee crisis by using public space to share conversations volunteers have had with migrants met in Calais. It is a way of bearing witness for the thousands of displaced people stuck in Calais and trying to reach the UK, whose voices are so often silenced or ignored. This ever-growing collection of conversations focuses on capturing the diversity of experiences and avoids creating new stereotypes of refugees as villains, heroic figures or hopeless victims. By pasting these posters on walls all around the world, we are taking over public space, commemorating these voices and inspiring social change.  LEARN MORE


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Emily Burke - soprano

Heather Fletcher - mezzo soprano

Christopher Hillier - baritone


Alexandra Amerides

Uma Dobia

Daniel Felton

Elizabeth Green

Caitlin Rowe

Breanna Stuart

Caitlin Toohey 


Linda Thompson - Artistic director/Co-director

Katie Smith - Co-director

Matthew Nash - Production manager


Phillipa Safey, keyboard

Stuart Byrne, clarinet/saxophone

Stephen Robinson, oboe

Theodore Pike, synth/percussion

Orchestra arrangement by Gabriel Delgado

Musical associate:

Dr David Kram AM


Gian Carlo Menotti


Gian Carlo Menotti wrote The Consul in response to news reports and personal encounters he had with refugees fleeing Europe after World War II. Two stories in particular, taken from the pages of the New York Times, moved him deeply. One involved a group of Jewish refugees who became trapped on a bridge between Austria and Hungary. Based loosely on this article, Menotti wrote an unproduced screenplay for MGM. The story involved refugees trying to flee Austria to Hungary, but without passports or papers, they ended up trapped for a week on a bridge between the two countries. The other story involved Mrs. Sofia Feldy, a 38-year-old Polish immigrant, who hung herself on Ellis Island after being denied entry to the United States. Menotti dramatized the despair, risk and loss of immigrants, inspired by these stories and his own experience as an American immigrant with Italian citizenship labeled as an “enemy alien” during World War II. 


The Consul won both the Pulitzer Prize in Music and the New York Drama Critic's Circle Award. Almost 75 years later, Gian Carlo Menotti’s opera delivers a punch as powerful and timely as its subject matter - the struggle for freedom against oppression, and the maddening nature of unrelenting bureaucracy.

"That day neither ink nor seal shall cage our souls...
that day will come!"

ENDURE played out in an unlikely space:

Inside 333 Collins St, one of Melbourne’s most opulent office buildings.

ENDURE ran for six hours straight in a marathon-style, repetitive presentation - but never the same twice.

We’ve all sat in a queue and watched and waited as other people don’t get the help they seek. That combination of empathy, curiosity and, either being drawn in or wanting to look away, when people get emotional.  It ties in with inflexible processes we all face, as a group of strangers, each with different and compelling stories - of which we only know from what we overhear… 


A group of strangers dealing with bureaucracy - but in this instance - because it is contemporary operatic storytelling after all - these are life and death situations.

The customer service face of policy - 'The Secretary' - meets people who are crying out for help. One by one they are told that they need to come back - with another document.  With materials and performance spanning 1950 to 2023, characters that originated in 1950 are transplanted to 2023, facing a system that has seen little policy change. They express their genuine frustration and incomprehension in the face of immovable policy: basically, between "sorry" and “computer says no”.   And yet, despite obstacles, the human spirit continues to be driven by hope, empathy and kindness, with operatic storytelling dialling the emotional impact to 11. 

While ENDURE explores the story of one person desperately seeking a visa, within its broader themes are numerous situations where policy prevails over humanity. 

"the more things change, the more they stay the same"

- Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

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