By Houston Dunleavy
Short Opera about love, c.9'30.
Libretto by Laura E Goodin.
Leona works in a warehouse with Gil and Byron, who have been friends, as well as co-workers, for years. In the course of her work, she opens a box that's inexplicably empty. Tossing it aside as a fluke, she continues - but something odd is happening. Why are Gil and Byron looking at each other like that? She hears a news item on the radio: everyone in Sydney is falling in love! Terrified that this sudden vulnerability will leave her friends open to heartbreak, she slams the box shut again. Nothing good can come of this: nothing good has ever come of such reckless emotion. "Hearts are warehouses," she sings, "shelves of plain brown boxes holding nothing much. I've always known it - the heart has no possibilities".
Leona can't decide - will she open the box, or not?
By Kevin March
Four Arias from Le Feluettes, c.16'00
Libretto by Michel Marc Bouchard and based on the play by Bouchard.
- Je t’écris à même l’eau, c.4'00
- Valse de feu, c.5'00
- Je croyais avoir oublié ça, c.4'00
- C’était un matin d’hiver, c.3'00
By Meta Overman
A one act operina (very small opera) for soprano, clarinet (or flute), four hands piano and dancer.
The score also includes a CD of the chamber works and a DVD of the first performance held at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music on 2nd April 2019 (also linked here).
Grotesque is a tragic comedy with quite an absurd plot involving an old man – the character played by the clarinettist, a young girl, sung by the soprano and a ghost whose antics are created by the sounds of the piano. Its structure is theme and variations as in the original version for piano four hands and the plot is described by a narrator. It is a little questionable whether in a performance that is staged the narrator is really necessary. In fact there is no mention of a narrator on the original score though when recording the work a narrator could be deemed necessary to outline the antics of the characters who cannot be seen. In a staged version the characters create the images and the “narration” on the score can be viewed as merely stage directions. The dancer would therefore act out the antics of the ghost and the instrumentalists would become the characters described by the stage directions. Composed 1951 rev. 1961
Edited by Jeanell Carrigan
[The performers were: Goetz Richter (narrator), Narelle Yeo (soprano), Katherine Howarth (clarinet), Jeanell Carrigan (piano), Tonya Lemoh (piano), Ines Paxton (girl, ghost), Andrew Knight (old man), Filmed by Connor Malanos.]
By Diana Blom
The children's opera, The Muffin Fiend, was written in 1990 and received its first performance in 1991 by Wenona Junior School in Sydney, Australia. Drawing on a number of musical influences, (including Mozart), the music takes cues from Pinkwater's classic children book of the same name, first published by Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Books, New York in 1986.
The libretto is based on The Muffin Fiend by Daniel Pinkwater, by arrangement with the Andrew Brown Literary Agency, Inc.; the cover illustration, by Daniel Pinkwater, is used with permission.
By Meta Overman
Opera in three acts, c.105'00
Based on the novel of the same name by Louis Couperus.
The King of the Kingdom of the Past and his three daughters: Psyche, Emeralda and Astra
Prince Eros of the Kingdom of the Present
Act 1: In the Kingdom of the Past the King has three daughters. A prince (Eros) from the Kingdom of the Present arrives with the intention of finding taking a bride from one of the three daughters.
The king presents each daughter to Eros in turn. Emeralda, is only interested in Eros’ potentiality to procure for her a coveted jewel and if he is successful agrees to marry him. The second daughter Astra, speaks only with her harp and Eros is daunted by her talent.
The third daughter, Psyche, is the favourite of the King and very young but Eros falls in love and chooses to marry Psyche. A Chimera, who can see the future, appears and Psyche begs him to reveal what is beyond the horizon but he refuses to tell her. The King dies and Emeralda gleefully takes over the kingdom. Eros and Psyche marry and leave for the Kingdom of the Present.
Act 2: All is well in the Kingdom of the Present. Psyche and Eros are in love and enjoy the benefits of living in peace and harmony. However without Eros knowing it, there is a lascivious Satyr lurking who desires Psyche. Although she tries desperately to keep him at bay the Satyr eventually manages to seduce Psyche. Eros returns and is dismayed to find the flowers and birds colourless and dying and no one able to tell him where Psyche has gone. He eventually realises what Psyche has done and completely in despair, dies. A hermit comes on stage and tells how he has always resisted the temptation that beckoned. When Psyche appears in a panther skin without her wings the hermit firstly chastises her for being a sinner but then relents and tells Psyche how she can redeem herself. She must go back to the castle of the Kingdom of the Past, to Emeralda and beg for mercy.
Act 3: Emeralda and Astra sit in the castle. When Psyche appears Emeralda firstly assumes she must be a beggar bringing jewels to earn Emeralda’s favour. When she realises it is her sister Psyche she is overcome with rage. She sends Psyche off to the underworld to search for the jewel of mystery.
Psyche wanders through the underworld and is first frightened by bats, spiders and sea monsters. A voice calls out Idleness! Idleness! and Psyche suddenly receives the courage she needs to go on. She is led back to the Kingdom of the Past and arrives there with the knowledge that the jewel that Emeralda seeks does not, and never has, existed.
When Psyche brings this news to Emeralda she is so overcome with rage that she lashes out and strangles Psyche. The Chimera returns and brings back Psyche’s wings and binds them on again. He shows Psyche the light which will lead her to the Kingdom of the Future where the King and Eros await her arrival. All is forgiven and Psyche, the King and Eros are reunited.
Emeralda continues to live in bitterness and hate, continuously seeking that which does not exist.
Orchestral: flute, oboe, bassoon, harp, piano, violin I, II, viola, cello, double bass
Vocal: tenor, baritone mezzo-soprano
Available on disc in digital format only with PDF of full score, orchestral and vocal parts and includes full length film of the premiere performance.
By Houston Dunleavy
Short Opera about redemption, c.10'30
Young lovers Keith and Erica are in the last days of their doomed relationship. Angry and distant, they have no chance of finding or giving forgiveness for whatever drove them apart. By some odd quirk of time, space, and fate, their 20-years-older selves are flung back to this moment, forced to watch what they have both replayed in their minds a thousand times and more: the moment when Erica walked away, and Keith ... just ... lets her go.
Current-day Keith and Erica plead with their younger selves, trying to make them see that they're throwing away the best person they will ever love, that the rest of their lives will be dull and full of regret and pain. The younger selves can neither see nor hear them, and the older selves realise that if this love is to be redeemed, it can only happen to who they are right now.
Composed 2010. Libretto by Laura E Goodin.
ISMN 9790720126524$45.00 for instant PDF download libretto and score
By Kevin March
Two Arias from Echo & Narcissus, c.7'00
Libretto by Jane Montgomery Griffiths
The story of Echo & Narcissus is based on Book III of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. In it, the lovely nymph Echo, having been cursed by the goddess Juno, can no
longer speak of her own volition, but can only communicate by repeating the words of others and the sounds she hears in nature.