Relatively new to the experience of Opera (courtesy of Mr James Waites), and a very simple understanding derived from years of Sunday afternoons of Arias (courtesy of my father’s music collection) – I have been impatient to understand the cultural clash and economic friction around opera as an art form. So with the promise of a free ticket and accumulated perspective, I refused all invitations in Sydney for 5 days, packed by bags and flew to Melbourne for Victorian Opera’s Double Bill directed by Nancy Black.

Black is known to me in text – she was a contributor to the same Australia Council paper I also contributed to – and I had heard of her work via reputation of Black Hole Theatre http://www.blackholetheatre.com.au/. She has a completely inspiring vision of her craft and speaks articulately and boldly about her independent theatre practice. The Age this week wrote a portrait/article about her http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/opera/cast-of-long-shadows-with-no-strings-20120812-242pc.html.

Here we have a brave and bold programming choice by Richard Gill – who enlisted Black to taken on two very challenging works. In the context of my theatrical diet I have never seen anything like it – rustic swathes of cloth for shadow puppets (set and costume designed by Adam Gardnir) -powerful voices cohabiting space with sweet and sparkling horses, percussionists in hard hats, moments of passion that cracks and claws at memory.

Though a short season – I am certain that the after effects of such a bold experiment will long linger in the hearts of those brave enough to take a punt, honour operative works that defy expectation. I feel fortunate to have seen it – and glad that this work is standing proud amongst the operatic seasons of endless La Traviatas and Madama Butterflies…

More information about Victorian Opera: www.victorianopera.com.au