Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Chorus will present the biopic of the American gay activist at Melbourne’s Midsumma Festival.

The Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Chorus have partnered with Left Bauer Productions to present the Australian premiere of Stewart Wallace and Michael Korie’s opera Harvey Milk. The concert performance of the work, which is part of this year’s Midsumma Festival, Victoria’s annual celebration of LGBTIQ culture, marks the Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Chorus’ 25th anniversary, as well as the 20th anniversary year since the opera’s premiere in Houston, Texas in 1995.

The musical biopic tells the remarkable true story of Harvey Milk’s appointment to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1978 as the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in America. Just ten months later, having achieved ground-breaking work establishing the first gay rights ordinance in the city, Milk was murdered by fellow City Supervisor Dan White, provoking an outpouring of grief that fuelled the call for equal rights for gay Americans.

The opera, which was originally jointly commissioned by Houston Grand Opera, New York City Opera and San Francisco Opera, has toured across the states and Europe, as well as being recorded by San Francisco Opera for Warner Classics in 1996.

Producer Cameron Lukey has been searching for the right occasion to bring Harvey Milk to an Australian audience.  “It’s taken five years to find the right platform, but ultimately we’ve come to the simplest, most obvious answer by joining forces with the Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Chorus, a group for whom this story has a special resonance,” says Lukey.

Dr Kathleen McGuire, Musical Director of the Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Chorus also has a particular affinity for the opera having lived in San Francisco for 13 years. “I conducted the city’s 25th and 30th anniversary commemorations of Harvey’s death,” shares McGuire. “Having met and known many of the people depicted in the opera, it’s a full circle for me to be able to bring this story home to Australia.” 

The Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Chorus in partnership with Left Bauer Productions presents the Australian premiere of Harvey Milk, 7 & 8 February, St Kilda Town Hall, Melbourne. For details on performance times and tickets, see the Left Bauer website.