A great operatunity

October 10 / 46

A new children's opera by the University's Convenor of Composition Dr Stuart Greenbaum has premiered to great acclaim.

The Parrot Factory was commissioned by Frederick and Mary Davidson and performed at the Malthouse Theatre by the Victorian Youth Opera earlier this month.

Director of Opera Victoria Richard Gill first discussed the idea for the opera with Dr Greenbaum about three years ago during refreshments after a University graduation ceremony.

"This proves beyond doubt that one should always attend the after-party." Dr Greenbaum quipped.

"I worked with Richard over the years on a number of orchestral works, notably for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra Sinfonia, and I was thrilled when he asked for this new piece."

The opera was rehearsed during the recent school holidays with a cast which included university, primary and secondary students from metropolitan and regional Victoria.

The opera's plot concerned the hunt for the four Fossett parrots, who held the secret of a hidden treasure left behind after the death of their owner, old widow Fossett, the richest woman in the world.

Dr Greenbaum said if opera as an art form was to survive, it must be replenished from the well of contemporary art and artists.

"We must engage with young performers and young audiences: they are tomorrow’s adults and our future," he said.

"Opera is a very particular art form, it allows for heightened and complex psychological and emotional journeys which the words and music separately don’t necessarily convey.

"But put the music and the words together in the right combinations and they can take us to places that other art forms don’t. Opera is unique and very powerful."

Dr Greenbaum cited working with Parrot Factory librettist Ross Baglin in the Netherlands and writing an aria on his laptop while looking at the German countryside as highlights of the creative process.

He said the biggest thrill was "finally hearing real musicians singing and playing, bringing the piece to life".

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