Kats-Chernin & Fleming


Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House

New production

Artist. Rebel. Icon.

He burst onto the international art scene, all golden curls and bravado. He was dynamic, damaged, a big idea and a bold brush. With the vivacious Wendy on his arm, Brett Whiteley was magnetic.

He abhorred straight lines, adored drugs, alcohol, women. He worked in vivid colour and ravishing curves. Heroin was both muse and merciless master. Out of this tumultuous life spilled a messy array of brilliant artworks and astonishing self-reflection.

In 2019, this Australian icon meets two of Australia’s greatest artists in a brand new work for the Australian stage: Whiteley, by Elena Kats-Chernin and Justin Fleming.

Kats-Chernin is peerless among contemporary composers, celebrated for her enormous output and music that bursts with colour, life and tenderness. Fleming is a respected playwright and librettist whose work is renowned for its warmth, wit and poignancy.

Together they’ve created an opera to honour the life and work of a man who could not extricate his talent from his demons.

Production designer Dan Potra’s technology-driven set is an immersive world created from Whiteley’s most famous paintings. Experience the works of a modern master on moving, larger-than-life screens.

Enjoy dinner before the opera at Sydney Opera House

Dinner at Overture Dining in the Northern Foyer of the Joan Sutherland
         Theatre at Sydney Opera HouseAllow us to make your dinner reservation for you: 6pm at Overture Dining in the Northern Foyer of the Joan Sutherland Theatre. You'll be served a themed three-course menu for just $69, including a glass of Bandini Prosecco on arrival. View the menu.

Simply add dinner to your cart after selecting tickets. If you already have tickets, simply sign in to your account and go to 'upcoming performances' to add a dinner reservation.

Subscribe to the opera in 2019 and come with us on an inspiring journey...

A mother and a daughter watch the opera together

Explore a season full of highlights, charting a course through love and passion and despair (this is opera, after all). You can laugh and revel in extraordinary talent, or gasp your way through ghost stories. Our 2019 season leaves no corner unexplored. Choose three or more productions to unlock a subscriber discount, along with exclusive benefits throughout the year.

Composed by Elena Kats-Chernin AO
Libretto by Justin Fleming
Conductor Tahu Matheson
Director David Freeman
Production Designer Dan Potra
Lighting Designer John Rayment
Digital Content Sean Nieuwenhuis
Assistant Director

John Sheedy

  Miranda Summers
Consultant Ashleigh Wilson
Fight Choreographer Tim Dashwood
Brett Whiteley Leigh Melrose
Wendy Whiteley Julie Lea Goodwin
Younger Arkie Whiteley Natasha Green
Older Arkie Whiteley Kate Amos
Beryl Whiteley Dominica Matthews
Joel Elenberg Richard Anderson
Dark Figure/Michael Driscoll Nicholas Jones
Patrick White Gregory Brown
Queen Annabelle Chaffey
Robert Hughes Alexander Hargreaves
Bryan Robertson Tomas Dalton
John Rothenstein Jonathan Alley
Frank Lloyd Brad Cooper
Anna Schwartz Leah Thomas
Biennale Judge Ruth Strutt
Fijian Backpacker Celeste Lazarenko
Fijian Police Officer Sitiveni Talei
Janice Angela Hogan

Opera Australia Chorus

Opera Australia Orchestra


Running time: approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes, including one interval.

Brett Whiteley (Australia; England, b.1939, d.1992) 
Self portrait in the studio 1976 
oil, collage, hair on canvas, 200.5 x 259 cm 
Art Gallery of New South Wales 
Purchased 1977 
© Wendy Whiteley 
Photo: AGNSW, Christopher Snee
View all image credits
Opera Australia acknowledges that Ashleigh Wilson’s book, “Brett Whiteley Art, Life and the Other Thing” (Text Publishing, 2016) has been used as a reference in the creation of this opera.

Production Patron

Philip Bacon Galleries logo

Proudly supported by

The Whiteley Donor Circle

Dinner at Overture Dining in the Northern Foyer of the Joan Sutherland Theatre

Allow us to make your dinner reservation for you: 5:30pm at Overture Dining in the Northern Foyer of the Joan Sutherland Theatre.

You'll be served a themed three-course menu for just $69, including a glass of Viticoltori Ponte Prosecco on arrival. Simply add dinner to your cart after selecting your tickets.

Sample menu

On arrival

A glass of Viticoltori Ponte Prosecco 

Warm bread roll, pepe saya butter (gluten free available)


Escabeche of Fremantle octopus, charred corn and chilli salsa GF, DF


Pumpkin and coconut soup with coriander, lemongrass and lime leaf V, GF, DF

Main Course

Roasted chicken breast with truffle polenta, cauliflower and hazelnut crumble GF, NF


Large purple eggplant with miso glaze, humus and fried chickpeas V, GF, DF

Salad of baby cos, radicchio, orange and citrus vinaigrette ($7, available on request)


Poached turmeric spiced pear, vanilla rice pudding and coconut crumble V, GF

​Published menu is subject to change without notice. Specific dietary requirements can be accommodated on request with 48 hours notice; please send us an email after booking.

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