Ode To Nonsense

Ode_To_Nonsense_PortraitSlingsby and State Opera of South Australia in association with Adelaide Festival Centre present this world première production.
26 April – 4 May 2013, Her Majesty’s Theatre

The life of one of the world’s literary greats, Edward Lear, will be brought to the stage, in a poignant opera for families, by internationally-acclaimed Adelaide-based theatre company Slingsby.

Ode to Nonsense is Slingsby’s fourth production, and the company’s first opera. Since its inception, just five years ago, Slingsby has enchanted audiences in 36 cities and 53 venues across eight countries, including a ‘sold-out’ season of The Tragical Life of Cheeseboy on 42nd Street, New York.

Adelaide family audiences are in for a theatrical and musical treat with Ode to Nonsense, which will be performed in a lushly-designed ’Gromboolian Plain’ by three principal singers, a children’s chorus, acrobats, and a chamber orchestra. Best remembered for his nonsense literature, most notably the lyrical, romantic whimsy, The Owl and the Pussycat, Lear actually hoped the world might love him better for his serious landscape paintings.

The world premiere of Ode to Nonsense is the culmination of a long-time ambition of Slingsby Artistic Director, Andy Packer, to devise a work around the life of Edward Lear.

“Opera is the ultimate art-form, bringing together drama, comedy, music, virtual art, technology, and dance. Ode to Nonsenseis an exciting new work that has been designed at the perfect scale to introduce a new audience to the magic of opera,” Andy says.

“Stepping into the theatre, audiences will be transported to the lavish and magical strangeness of a carnival of the Victorian era, complete with mystical tents, circus performers, and a children’s chorus mingling with the audience. From this enchanting beginning, the production will follow the adventures of Edward Lear, as he moves back and forth from the beauty of the natural world to the golden wonder of his imagination.”

“Incorporating everything that opera has to offer, plus acrobats, juggling, and stunning animated projections, Ode to Nonsense will be a memorable theatre experience for audiences of all ages.”


Lonely little Edward is captivated for a sublime moment by the magic of a travelling carnival. The real world forever after seems doomed to disappoint him. As an adult, he escapes into his imaginary ‘Gromboolian Plain’, populated by beings with luminous noses, hysterical ears and impossible adventures. Ode to Nonsense sails cheeriously along with runcible spoons, fizzgigious fish and gosky patties, and delves into Lear’s inner conflicts. On his return from exotic travels with manservant Giorgio, Lear is reunited with his lifelong, unconfessed love, Gussie.

Composer: Quincy Grant  Librettist: Jane Goldney
Director/Scenario: Andy Packer  Musical Director: Timothy Sexton
Set And Lighting Designer: Geoff Cobham  Costume Designer: Ailsa Paterson Projection Design: Cindi Drennan, Illuminart  Executive Producer: Jodi Glass  Image: Andy Ellis
Cast Includes: Nicholas Lester, Johanna Allen, Adam Goodburn

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