When Voss premiered at the Adelaide Festival in March 1986, it was hailed as the long-awaited Great Australian Opera. With music by Richard Meale and a libretto by David Malouf, based on Patrick White’s novel, the audience applauded rapturously, and felt they were witnessing a defining moment in Australian cultural history. The critics were also impressed. The opera was performed in Sydney later that year, and revived in 1990. But it hasn’t been staged since. Why? In his cover feature Back From the Wilderness, Vincent Plush traces the history of the opera and hopes that the forth-coming semi-staged performances by Victorian Opera and State Opera South Australia will help rescue the opera from neglect.

Limelight

The cover of Limelight’s August 2021 magazine.

Trent Dalton’s award-winning, best-selling novel Boy Swallows Universe is about to take flight on stage in a new Queensland Theatre/Brisbane Festival production. Originally scheduled to have its world premiere in 2020, the highly anticipated production will now be part of this year’s Brisbane Festival. Jane Albert speaks to adaptor Tim McGarry, director Sam Strong, designer Renée Mulder, cast members Joe Klocek and Ngoc Phan, and Dalton himself about bringing the book to vivid theatrical life.

Plenty of new music is premiered in Australia, but after the first performance, many pieces are never heard again. In her feature World Premieres, and Beyond, Shamistha de Soysa talks with composers, programmers, philanthropists and commissioners about how to expand the life of new music, with international co-commissions, tours, recordings and digital perforamnces all part of the equation.

When Carmen Pavlovic co-founded Global Creatures with Gerry Ryan in 2008, she was determined to create new work. The company has had its hits and misses but it has remained true to its vision. And as Pavlovic tells Jo Litson in the feature Yes, She Can-Can, Global Creatures wouldn’t have produced the red-hot hit Moulin Rouge! without learning from its previous shows, which include the musicals Strictly Ballroom, King Kong and Muriel’s Wedding.

In the July issue, Felicity Wilcox wrote an article called Programming Must Get With the Program in which she argued that Australian orchestras must urgently address the stark deficits addressed Ciaran Frame’s 2020 Living Music Report. This month, in our ongoing debate about whether the music played by Australia’s orchestras properly reflects Australian identity, and whether it needs to, Peter Tregear discusses the rise of identity politics and argues that if we wish to defend our orchestral culture, we cannot avoid questions of musical value in his article Programming is Not the Problem.

Also in this issue, our newly appointed Deputy Editor Hugh Robertson interviews violinist Emily Sun about her new album Nocturnes, available on ABC Classic, Nicholas Routley pays tribute to Renaissance composer Josquin des Prez on the 500th anniversary of his death, Claire Edwardes, Artistic Director of Ensemble Offspring, discusses why so many people are intimidated by new music – a challenge her ensemble is taking in its stride. Diana Simmonds reviews John Bell’s book Some Achieve Greatness, Lessons on leadership and character from Shakespeare and one of his greatest admirers, and Deborah Jones reviews Opera di Roma’s riveting, genre-defying production of La Traviata, which is screening in selected Palace Cinemas.

And, as ever, there’s plenty more. Who’s to say that The Force is any less potent to its believers than the Holy Trinity, asks Guy Noble in his latest Soapbox. Phoebe Russell, Principal Double Bass at Queensland Symphony Orchestra, tells us about why she feels happiest and strongest with a double bass in her hands in Playing Up, and in this month’s My Music column, Namila Benson, the host of ABC TV’s Art Works, explains how music has played a huge part in her upbringing.

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