Homegrown: Opera Carnivalé

11 April 2019
David Reeves’s Seven Little Australians comes to Wollongong 
The University of Sydney Conservatorium of Music has joined forces with peers in Wollongong to recreate a musical theatre sensation.  

Dr Narelle Yeo, Senior Lecturer in Voice at the University of Sydney Conservatorium of Music and Rachel Bate, Head of Voice at Wollongong Conservatorium of Music, head up  Opera Carnivalé, a production company they started together to provide collaborative performance opportunities for students from both institutions. This year the duo is taking on the much-loved Seven Little Australians with music by David Reeves and lyrics by Peter Yeldham and John Palmer.   

The show is based on Ethel Turner’s classic tale of the same name, taken to heart by young and old since 1894. Director Dr Narelle Yeo’s interpretation will come to life within the antique wood and red canvas of the Spiegeltent, which is home to Wollongong’s annual festival performance season.  

Seven Little Australians features a cast of 40 and a 15-piece orchestra. “I have re-edited and cut the work down to a one-act hybrid show in a new curation that is more opera than musical theatre, with flowing lyrical lines and ‘head voice’ singing,” said Dr Yeo.  

This is a unique new adaptation of a work that enjoyed great success in its first run in 1988-1989. Yeo’s ongoing research on opera and musical theatre has directly informed this adaptation. The research rewards of running a mentoring program attached to a performance outcome means we can easily reflect on the value and importance of this project.”  

Over the past three-years, Dr Yeo and Ms Bate have created three shows with Illawarra students and professionals from Wollongong, with support from the Sydney and Wollongong Conservatoriums. They have cultivated a positive environment with demonstrably life-changing results for students.  

“We are really proud of this program and the young performers we are able to reach,” Dr Yeo said. “Both Rachel and I believe in the power of the arts to change outcomes for young people and we are passionate about our product and the process itself.”   

Opera Carnivale’s Seven Little Australians is a one-night only performance taking place at 4.30pm on Sunday 14 April at the Speigeltent Wollongong, located at Burelli Street Arts Precinct, Wollongong.


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