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.
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|Composed by||Elena Kats-Chernin AO|
|Libretto by||Justin Fleming|
|Production Designer||Dan Potra|
|Lighting Designer||John Rayment|
|Digital Content||Sean Nieuwenhuis|
|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|
|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|
Running time: approximately 2 hours, including one interval.
Sung in English with English surtitles.
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
© Wendy Whiteley
Photo: AGNSW, Christopher Snee
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.