Bleach* Festival has announced its 2019 program, Louise Bezzina’s final festival as Artistic Director before she takes the reins at the Brisbane Festival, with a monumental performance of Verdi’s Requiem at its heart. The performance, a collaboration between Bleach*, Opera Queensland and the Queensland Conservatorium, announced with Opera Queensland’s 2019 season, will see Natalie Murray Beale conduct Verdi’s “opera in ecclesiastical vestments” at the Home of the Arts, with a cast including soprano Natalie Aroyan, mezzo-soprano Milijana Nikolic, tenor Rosario La Spina and bass-baritone Andrew Collis, in an under-the-stars production with lighting and video design by Mark Howett.
“Verdi’s Requiem provides the perfect score for a powerful moment in time, taking the Requiem as a symbol of new beginnings for both the City and the Festival,” Bezzina said, describing the performance as “an invitation to gather and look within ourselves.”
The Farm’s Throttle. Photo supplied
Other highlights of the festival include Throttle, a drive-in “B-grade thriller” by the award-winning Gold Coast dance company The Farm (whose work Tide at last year’s Bleach* Festival saw two performers working in an office built on a sandbar) and Dance North’s Tectonic, a dynamic piece addressing climate change which will feature 180 exercise balls half buried in the sand at Burleigh Heads. The work was inspired by the plight of the Poruma Island community in the Torres Strait, whose home is threatened by rising sea levels due to climate change.
“Poruma Island is home to 180 residents and is about as close to paradise as you can get. However as global sea levels being to rise, Poruma Island is disappearing,” said director and choreographer Kyle Page. “Tectonic breathes life into the stories of the Poruma Island community, which has nurtured a deep connection with the natural environment for generations, choosing to live in concert with the world around them.”
Dance North’s Tectonic. Photo supplied
The fitness balls will remain buried in the sand across the Easter weekend, serving as an interactive installation for the public.
Burleigh Heads will be a major landmark in the Bleach* Festival, home also to the festival’s opening and closing ceremonies, On This Land We Gather, featuring Lutha Cora and the Yugambeh Dancers.
ANZAC Day falls during the festival, and Bleach* will mark it with a program titled The Soldier’s Wife, a performance featuring the HOTA Choir, for which Queensland songwriters worked with hundreds of women from varying backgrounds and conflicts, including 160 soldiers wives from the Gold Coast branches of the Australian War Widows of Queensland.
The Gold Coast’s waterways will be host to a roving series of performances titled Water Songs, which will see music played in private homes and waterway parks across the city, while Pyrophone Juggernaut, billed as the largest hand-operated, multi-octave fire organ in the world and shaped like a sailing ship, will set sail at Burleigh Heads. Pyrophone Juggernaut – which has appeared across the country from the Woodford Folk Festival to Adelaide Fringe, Sydney Festival and Melbourne’s White Night Festival – will spew fire and music in a fantastical performance bound to be one of the more memorable moments of the Bleach* Festival.
Bleach* 2019 runs at venues across the Gold Coast April 17 – 28