Arts

Voss Journeys Back To The Stage From Beyond

The great Australian opera Voss finally returns to the stage after 30 years in the wilderness for a one-night-only, once-in-a-lifetime concert this coming Saturday 7 May 2022 at the Festival Theatre, Adelaide.

After nearly losing the project to multiple postponements in Melbourne and Adelaide in 2021 due to COVID, State Opera South Australia and Victorian Opera co-present this highly anticipated opera event in the town that first gave it an audience. A passion project between the Artistic Directors of both companies, a revival of this much-lauded work has been many years in the making said Stuart Maunder, State Opera’s Artistic Director.

“The presentation of Voss is a long-anticipated thrill. I’ve loved the novel since I studied it in high school – who didn’t? I stood for it on the Opening Night here in Adelaide in 1986, and I’ve tried to programme a revival since that time. Finally, in collaboration with Victorian Opera, and their visionary Artistic Director Richard Mills, I can now bring that dream to Adelaide next week,” Maunder said.

Widely considered to be the great Australian opera, Voss was created by composer Richard Meale and author and librettist David Malouf after Patrick White’s novel of the same name.

“This is a great work; one of the most tuneful, accessible, grand, and romantic scores ever to be composed in Australia. It is epic, admirable, thrilling, lush; grand opera at its most intimate, speaking as it does of man’s constant struggle with the land, the infinite, the self,” Maunder said.

Based loosely on the explorer Ludwig Leichhardt, who disappeared whilst on expedition in outback Australia around 1845, Voss is both a semi-biographical account of an explorer’s tragic attempt to cross the vast Australian continent and a love story of epic proportions.

On the surface Voss is a tale about one man fighting against the elements and his own nature. What lies beneath is an exquisite and moving exploration of the ‘Outsider’; a man who desperately seeks an elusive personal connection, and an identity with society. Ultimately, it is an extraordinary love story between two human beings that transcends time and space.

The 2022 revival features baritone Samuel Dundas as the doomed explorer, and soprano Emma Pearson as Laura, the roles originally created by Geoffrey Chard and Marilyn Richardson.

Unlike the original production, this one will be semi-staged, with the cast and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Richard Mills. The main scenic element will be an LED array, with projections of landscape paintings by the late Fred Williams.

“I think it’s an important work in the history of Australian music and it needs to be refreshed for each succeeding generation,” Conductor Richard Mills said.

Voss was originally commissioned by The Australian Opera (Opera Australia) and premiered at the Adelaide Festival in 1986. Thirty years on, Voss once more will take Australia by storm as a spectacular staged concert directed by Stuart Maunder. Some tickets are still available, but the organisers encourage people to get in quick to avoid disappointment.


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