"Australian Contemporary Opera Co has...reached exalted levels with a one-night only double bill of two one-act 21st century American operas."
- Barney Zwartz, the age
to hell and back
JUST PAST (OCT 2022)
AMERICAN DOUBLE BILL
the loser / to hell and back
PRESENTED BY AUSTRALIAN CONTEMPORARY OPERA CO
AND MELBOURNE RECITAL CENTRE
KINDLY SUPPORTED BY HANS & PETRA HENKELL
>> THE AGE
"Australian Contemporary Opera Co has...reached exalted levels with a one-night only double bill of two one-act 21st century American operas." - Barney Zwartz
"Spartan, semi-staged offerings directed by Linda Thompson, and lit by Sidney Younger, ...weren’t lavish, but certainly delivered contemporary musical and emotional intrigue." - Patricia Maunder
>> CLASSIC MELBOURNE
"Australian Contemporary Opera Co is continuing to build a solid reputation for innovative musical experiences involving some of the best operatic and creative talent from Australia and overseas." - Heather Leviston
music & libretto by David Lang (Aust Premiere)
TO HELL AND BACK
music by Jake Heggie & libretto by Gene Scheer
(MSO Cybec Assistant Conductor Fellow 2022)
Marianne Rothschild, violin
Bernadette Baker, violin
Vicky Vukovich, viola
Diamant Dmitry, cello
Nic Synot, double bass
Stuart Byrne, flute
Stephen Robinson, oboe
Sara Rafferton, bassoon
Theodore Pike, percussion
Joyce Chahine, piano
Music by David Lang
Libretto by the composer, based on novel by Thomas Bernhard
Starring CHRISTOPHER HILLIER
"boldly unconventional" - The New York Times
A complex and unsettling piece about talent, jealousy and genius,
THE LOSER, based on the book by Thomas Bernhard, is brought to life by a single baritone voice and instrumental quintet.
Telling the story of a concert pianist who finds himself in the same masterclass as the super-talent Glenn Gould and realises he will never be that great. The narrator is his friend, who describes meeting ‘the loser’ on Suicide Mountain, a place they have both considered throwing themselves into the void.
The beauty of the music makes us more intensely aware of the grief and disappointment that fuel the narrator’s anger...the restrained and gorgeous score haunting reminders of what the narrator has given up. This is, after all, his whole life that he is talking about: his blighted dreams, his unrealised hopes.”
“…the score is a model of how music can animate words..."
- Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times
TO HELL AND BACK
Music by Jake Heggie
Libretto by Gene Scheer
Starring DESIREE FRAHN and DIMITY SHEPHERD
"an incredible musical journey" - East Bay Times
A heart and ground-breaking work which takes a modern Baroque orchestra, opera and music theatre into an intimate drama of relationship damage due to family violence. Beautiful, riveting, hopeful and unforgettable.
Linking a too-familiar modern story of family violence to the Persephone myth is a clever device by the librettist Gene Scheer, and subtle 'history repeats' message within the Baroque references by composer Jake Heggie.
Pairing the soaring hopeful spirit of a young lyric soprano with the complex, wisened, toughness of the older mezzo is operatic genius. Sometimes we watch a film and it is painful and emotional - but can't take our eyes away - this opera similarly reaches the heart, is ultimately hopeful - and simply unforgettable.
"...magnificent...with echoes of Britten, Barber, Bernstein and Copland....To Hell and Back” will come as a surprise to those who think modern opera isn’t sufficiently tuneful. " - Contra Costa, East Bay Times