These young opera adventurers explore the art of song at the Biennale of Sydney.

A typical recital of classical art song might shine the spotlight on a satin-gowned soprano or a tenor in tails, frozen on stage and barely glancing at their accompanist. It’s no wonder Sydney Chamber Opera found that boring – the company is run by hip twentysomethings with Gen-Y attention spans, after all. In their new, semi-staged song cycle, Through the Gates,they have joined forces with the Biennale of Sydney to inject the static art song with the drama and theatrics of, well, art.

First things first, SCO transposed proceedings from the concert hall to the Biennale’s happening pop-up bar at Pier 2/3, Walsh Bay. There, members of the audience can wander through the space, drink in hand, contemplating the evocative installations of Belgian artist Honoré δ’O .In these uniquely atmospheric surrounds, three singers and three instrumentalists take the crowd on a journey through Bach and Mahler to Barber and Shostakovich in SCO music director Jack Symond’s bold new arrangements for piano, violin and electric guitar. “I thought that the torrents of anger in the late Shostakovich songs could be further unleashed by invoking the energy...

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