the making of a new australian opera
A New Australian Opera in 2 Acts
Music by William Barton
Libretto by Linda Thompson
In May of 2013 at the MCG there was an interaction between an Indigenous footballer (Adam Goodes) and a young spectator. Over the following days and weeks, this incident brought to the fore the deep wounds and contradictions that exist in Australia’s national identity.
Australian Contemporary Opera Company has commissioned William Barton to write an opera, based loosely around this story. Adam Goodes himself "looks forward to seeing this wonderful project realised."
THE INCIDENT holds a mirror to core questions of Australian identity. 'That day' at the football is seen through the lens of two Australian families from very different backgrounds, and raises critical questions for all Australians as we journey on our inevitable path to confront our history and move toward authentic reconciliation.
Performing arts and sport share an extraordinary power to shape and change social fabric - using operatic story-telling we want to provoke conversation, delight in beauty and artistry, and contribute to societal healing. As a work of contemporary Australian art, this piece will be in the repertory for all time, and a cultural marker of a significant turning point in Australia's reckoning with its past.
From inception to creative development to performance, THE INCIDENT centres the voice of First Nations artists. The work will exist in the canon as a vehicle for on-stage representation of Australian society as we are today - multicultural, on borrowed land, connected and disconnected - and all human.
THE INCIDENT is the operatic debut of William Barton, Australia's leading Indigenous composer. At least half the cast and creative team are First Nations performers and practitioners, and ACOCo has partnered with William Barton, his management team and creative Elders for respectful engagement and First Nations advice and guidance.
TAKE A ROLE IN CREATING THIS BRAND NEW OPERA BY JOINING THE INCIDENT COMMISSION CONSORTIUM: YOUR CONTRIBUTION WILL SEE INTERNATIONAL PUBLICATION OF WILLIAM'S FIRST OPERA SCORE, AN EXCLUSIVE INVITATION TO CELEBRATE THE COMPLETION, AND WIP REPORTS AS WE HEAD TOWARDS A WORLD-PREMIERE IN 2024.
the incident [WIP 2021-2024]
Meeting in Sydney in February 2021, composer William Barton and artistic director / librettist Linda Thompson instantly clicked over a mutual 'burning platform' for using voice, music and theatre to tell this particular Australian story of today, and tomorrow. William's signature style of combining European and Indigenous musical soundscapes perfectly suited the characters and concept; especially now, as society journeys to authentic reconciliation. Big topics and challenging ideas are ripe for operatic story-telling! WISE Music signed up as publishers, and ACOCo's first Australian opera commission was born.
A working session at Wise Music HQ in Sydney sees our opera THE INCIDENT starting to take flight. Deep in concentration, the excitement was palpable as the creators discussed motivations, language, musical structure and dramatic arc.
Creating an opera is thirsty work: catching up outside Melbourne Recital Centre during football season (William played at the Grand Final).
workshop - 1
ACOCo board members, Media guru Toby Ralph, singers and pianist Coady Green gathered with William and Linda, to mark the occasion of the first sung notes of the score! Wiradjuri soprano Shauntai Batzke (Mother) and Emily Burke (Grandmother) received the first draft of their duet, which they went on to perform (premiere) at the National Gallery of Australia's 40th Foundation Gala Dinner. ACOCo singers were treated to William's insights and explanation as to how to accurately create the sounds in the score - and we could not resist the group photo in the Yarra Park - in the 'hallowed' MCG precinct.