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ACOCo and Melbourne Recital Centre Present American Opera Double Bill

The performance is on Monday 3 October at 7pm.

ACOCo and Melbourne Recital Centre Present American Opera Double Bill

Australian Contemporary Opera Co (ACOCo) and Melbourne Recital Centre present a one-night only double-bill of powerful works by two visionary American composers: the Australian premiere of David Lang's The Loser and Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer's To Hell and Back. Acclaimed for their emotional punch, beauty and sensitively, these works are masterpieces of recent American contemporary opera.

"America leads the way in contemporary opera story-telling," says ACOCo's Artistic Director Linda Thompson. "This double bill mirrors conundrums and relationships many people are grappling with today - and showcases the creators' brilliance and Australian talent in a moving night of music and drama."

A complex and unsettling piece about talent, jealousy and genius, The Loser is based on the novel by Thomas Bernhard, judiciously turned into a libretto by Oscar-nominated composer David Lang, and brought to life by the single baritone voice of Christopher Hillier. It centres on the relationship between piano virtuoso Glenn Gould and two fellow students, compelled to abandon their musical ambitions in the face of Gould's incomparable genius. One commits suicide, while the other-the obsessive, witty, and self-mocking narrator-retreats into obscurity. Written as a one-act monologue, The Loser offers a brilliant meditation on perfectionism, how we justify our lives to ourselves and ultimately, how we learn to appreciate beauty and become alienated from it at the same time. "boldly unconventional" - The New York Times

A heart- and ground-breaking work, To Hell and Back explores the devastating issue of spousal abuse, told through the lens of Persephone's mythological abduction to the underworld by Hades. Crafted by librettist Gene Scheer and Grammy winning composer Jake Heggie into a too-familiar contemporary story of family violence, the opera focusses on the relationship between Anne, the mother of the perpetrator and Stephanie, her daughter-in-law, as they struggle in the aftermath of Anne's rescue of Stephanie from her husband's abuse. This work pairs the soaring hopeful spirit of a young soprano (Desiree Frahn) with the complex toughness of an older mezzo (Dimity Shepherd) to extraordinary dramatic effect. A sensitive contemporary examination of abuse, redemption and empowerment. "an incredible musical journey" - East Bay Times

"The crafting of these stories gives scope to focus on a single element of drama, music, language, character and emotion - or simply take it all in as you might a film," says Linda. "Whichever element draws you in, live contemporary opera is unforgettable, it gets under your skin."

The American Opera Double Bill will be performed for one night only at the intimate and acoustically superb Elisabeth Murdoch Hall at the Melbourne Recital Centre.

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