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Awakening Shadows Carriageworks

Awakening Shadows Carriageworks

Carriageworks, one of Australia’s most significant contemporary multi-arts organisations, will present Awakening Shadow, a new work by resident company Sydney Chamber Opera. In a first Australian staging, Benjamin Britten’s five Canticles are entwined with a new work by leading Australian composer Luke Styles, performed by a quartet of singers and four musicians in front of a monolithic altar-like screen. The work channels Britten’s crisis of faith through the singing body and will be presented from 30 September – 7 October 2022.

Awakening Shadow follows on from Sydney Chamber Opera’s previous successful stagings of Britten operas at Carriageworks with Owen Wingrave in 2013 and The Rape of Lucretia in 2017. Britten’s Canticles are a seminal portrait of his musical voice, written over a period of 30 years for his partner and muse Peter Pears. This production marks the Australian premiere of Sydney-born composer Luke Styles’ response to the Britten, interleaving the Canticles with his own work which forms musical and textual commentary and draws together these important pieces into a single dramatic entity. While Styles has made a name for himself on the international opera scene, having created work for the Royal Opera House in London, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Glyndeborne and many more, this is the first time his operatic work will be heard in Sydney.

Events in Sydney - Carriageworks

Artistic Director of Sydney Chamber Opera Jack Symonds said:For almost a decade, SCO has been practically alone in flying the flag in Sydney for Britten's operas. As the most important creator of opera in English in the 20th century, it is scandalous that they should be so neglected in Australia. As the cornerstone and beginning of the chamber opera repertoire, SCO is passionate about righting that wrong.

“The Canticles are essentially small in form but epic in their interrogation of Britten's own passions and beliefs. They are potent and elemental expressions of Britten's relationship to faith, war, sacrifice, love, violence – with the male body and form as the site of ongoing enquiry. Almost diaristic and confessional, they reveal one of the 20th century's major artists in all his complexity.”

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Directed by Imara Savage alongside Cannes award-winning filmmaker Mike Daly, the hour-long quintet of chamber works will centre on radiant tenor Brenton Spiteri, commuting between Britten’s intense demands and the brand-new world of Luke Styles’ response. Spiteri will be joined onstage by Sydney-born mezzo soprano Emily Edmonds, who has recently performed with the Royal Opera House, London and Komische Oper, Berlin, alongside Sydney Chamber Opera Artistic Associate soprano Jane Sheldon and the company’s frequent baritone collaborator Simon Lobelson.

The singers will perform alongside a large screen that presents itself as an altar on which a new video work will unfold, exploring Britten's complex and evolving relationship with faith. Australian Ballet School dancer Luca Armstrong has been captured in multiple poses using a technique called photogrammetry, using 120 synchronised cameras to then generate a 3D model that has been digitally manipulated in space. The resulting work features moving tableaux that are photorealistic yet hauntingly unreal, as if floating between life and death.

Carriageworks CEO Blair French said: “Carriageworks is committed to presenting new work by Australian artists and we’re thrilled to be the first venue in Sydney to stage operatic work by local composer Luke Styles. Sydney Chamber Opera is one of the most exciting opera companies in the country, as the engine room for new opera in Australia they continue to present innovative and important works that are not to be missed.”


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