Opera for One: Whiteley

Kats-Chernin & Fleming

Opera for One: Whiteley

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.

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, 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
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

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