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Taking Cloudstreet from the page to the opera stage


Opera fans will have the chance this Friday to hear glimpses of the music composed for State Opera’s upcoming premiere production of Cloudstreet, based on the much-loved Tim Winton novel of the same name.

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At a “From Page to Stage” event at Elder Hall on Friday night, all of the key players in the opera’s development will be part of a panel discussion, convened by InDaily editor David Washington, about how the show came together.

The event will be the first chance to hear snippets of the opera’s music, and gain insights into its development, ahead of the world premiere in Adelaide in May.

On stage will be director Gale Edwards, composer and librettist George Palmer, and State Opera CEO and artistic director Timothy Sexton.

For good measure, they will be joined by the team working on forthcoming production ‘Innocence’, inspired by Adelaide author Stephen Orr’s acclaimed novel, Time’s Long Ruin.

Innocence composer Anne Cawrse and with librettist and producer Adam Goodburn will both add their perspectives about the challenges or bringing a novel to the stage as an opera.

Edwards told InDaily that she had been working on ‘Cloudstreet’ for five years with Palmer.

She was attracted to the story because of its epic sweep, and the chance to bring a story of ordinary Australians to the opera stage.

Edwards likens the emotionally taxing but “thrilling” task of putting the show together – which she’ll describe in detail tomorrow night – to detective work or solving a Rubik’s Cube.

Winton’s novel, set from World War II until the 1960s, tells the tale of two tragedy-struck working class families who share a large house in suburban Perth. One recurring theme is a mysterious Aboriginal figure who is connected with the spiritual past of the home.

George Palmer, Gale Edwards and Tim Sexton (front) with Cloudstreet cast members.

George Palmer, Gale Edwards and Tim Sexton (front) with Cloudstreet cast members.

For Edwards, the novel is both a metaphor for Australia’s national journey and a celebration of the indomitable spirit of the nation, as exemplified by ordinary people battling against life’s challenges.

“It’s real people singing, using working class, vernacular language,” she says. “I love that it’s working class language meeting opera.”

Edwards, who began her directing career in Adelaide before going on to great acclaim in London and interstate, feels a close personal connection to the story, which will be explored at tomorrow’s event.

Tickets are $10. Bookings can be made here.


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