ACOCo commissions a brand new Australian opera by William Barton

Australian Contemporary Opera Co. has commissioned leading composer William Barton to write his first opera, scheduled to premiere in February 2024. We are inviting you to join us to see this important work from conception to stage.

We decided our first major commission should be bold and provocative: facing racism and bias in contemporary Australian society head-on. We are crafting a beautiful and thought-provoking work of operatic story-telling, healing and hope - and a legacy for our time.

A fictionalised account of the lead up and aftermath of THE INCIDENT with Adam Goodes and a young spectator at the MCG in 2013, the two-act opera has equal representation of Australia's Indigenous and non-Indigenous professional performers on stage, and within the creative team.

We shall overcome our differences as we share in the tears of reconciliation, acknowledging our human faults - but being uplifted by knowing we do care for one another as we strive to create a path that not only ensures a better future for our own children, but for others on the opposite end of the field.
- William Barton, didgeridoo virtuoso, celebrated composer and cross-genre collaborator

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Discovering new Australian stories and voices


FIRST TAKE AUSTRALIA is modeled on the format Yuval Sharon (American opera and theater director and artistic director of The Industry) created as Project Director of New York City Opera’s influential VOX program between 2005-09. Since 2013, The Industry and Wild Up have presented a biennial West Coast workshop of new American operas designed to "give audiences a taste of the wide range of ideas in opera today". The inaugural First Take took place at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.


FIRST TAKE AUSTRALIA is in development, with a view to calling for submissions of existing vocal works from Australian composers in early 2023. The Advisory Panel will select composers/projects to work with ACOCo to create, develop and produce opera-music theatre prototypes, presented biannually in a public workshop.


With other appointments in the pipeline, the inaugural ACOCo FTA Advisory Panel includes Professor Stuart Greenbaum (Composer/Head of Composition at UniMelb), Dr Caitlin Vincent (Librettist/Lecturer in Creative Industries UniMelb), Daniel Zhesiong Todd (Performer/Teacher/Writer), led by Artistic Director Linda Thompson. 

Co-production with Monk Parrots NYC

Red Head Woman

DON JEFFREY is a reworking of a story audiences have cheered and celebrated since c. 1630.  A legendary, fictional libertine who devotes his life to seducing and abusing women. No musical version is more beloved than Mozart and Da Ponte's opera Don Giovanni, which employs a cast of characters ranging from enablers to victims. If art mirrors society and changes lives, the repeated success of Don Giovanni over almost 2.5 centuries does not bear that out.

Following the recent conviction of Ghislaine Maxwell, accomplice to Jeffrey Epstein in the procurement of young women for sexual exploitation, we give Mozart's sublime melodies and harmonies another layer of narrative - all the more sinister, familiar and terrible as the women who are misled and mistreated on stage, and some of the alleged perpetrators, are recognisable to us - they live amongst us. How can we appreciate a composition of such beauty which tells a tale of devastating abuse? How can shaming be amusing? Why is criminal behaviour overlooked?


MONK PARROTS, led by artistic director Luke Leonard and based in NYC, is ACOCo's principal international collaborator, having worked on David Lang & Mac Wellman's The Difficulty of Crossing a Field, a reimagining of Verdi's Macbeth arr. by US composer Peter Stopchinski, and David Lang's love fail - a remote digital collaboration for both ACOCo's 2020 online Festival, and live performance at Fed Square in 2021.

DON JEFFREY is bound to ruffle feathers. It is a retelling of a beloved story through an uncomfortable contemporary lens.

As opera should be, in a civilised and empathic society.

- Linda Thompson

Work in progress

Actors Rehearsing

We're setting up a Consortium to help us commission and produce new operas as part of our annual international of contemporary opera and song. If you want to be meaningfully involved in the creation and production of new works, please make contact to set up a meeting to discuss joining us in a creative crusade!