I am so excited about The Riders opening in Perth next week. Tim Winton’s Booker Prize short-listed novel has been turned into an opera by librettist Alison Croggon (also a fantastic critic) and composer Iain Grandage, who won his first Helpmann award for his music for Winton’s Cloudstreet.
I love the idea of a home-grown opera, with lines like “The blow of Perth sunlight striking up from a white beach” and an almost-entirely WA cast. James Clayton seems born for the role of Scully: rough, tenderhearted and with magnetic stage charisma.
Then there’s the idea of Winton’s metaphors (the three candles, the references to birds, the Celtic mythology and the Irish song quotes) being illuminated by music. Wagner would have a field day with the leitmotif potential in Winton’s novels! I look forward to hearing what Grandage does.
|The Riders was produced in 2014 by Opera Victoria and Malthouse Theatre. c Jeff Busby|
My interview with soprano Emma Pearson gives a fascinating insiders perspective on The Riders. And here is a preview from The West Australian newspaper to whet your appetite:
Grandage Rides Winton Tale
Multiple award-winning composer Iain Grandage’s fingerprints are all over the scores for Barking Gecko-Australian Opera’s The Rabbits and the Sydney Theatre Company’s The Secret River.
Grandage, who picked up the first of his five Helpmann Awards for his Cloudstreet score in 2002, is back in his old hometown of Perth to work with WA Opera on his revival of another Tim Winton adaptation, The Riders.
Based on Winton’s 1994 novel about an Australian man’s desperate search for his wife across Europe, Grandage’s opera was premiered by Opera Victoria and Malthouse Theatre in 2014.
WA Opera artistic director Brad Cohen, in his first full season at the helm, has given Grandage, librettist Alison Croggon and director Marion Potts the opportunity to restage The Riders with the benefit of lessons learnt from those first performances.
Grandage says he is “beyond thrilled” that WA Opera is giving The Riders another outing, particularly because of his and Winton’s WA heritage and the fact that Fremantle is a kind of Ithaca in the odyssey of lovelorn Scully and his daughter Billie.