Season 2012

Opera XS: A Convergence of Opera


From Wednesday June 6 to Monday June 11, The Malthouse will be filled with Opera XS, a six-day frenzy of operatic proportions. Together with our friends at Chamber Made Opera, Rawcus, Short Black Opera Company and Victorian Opera, we’re presenting a convergence of opera like you’ve never seen before.

With a diverse program featuring established productions alongside special events, works in progress, an operatic tête-à-tête with mezzo soprano Merlyn Quaife and an open Mic night, opera xs was a showcase of contemporary australian opera held over the Queen’s birthday long weekend.


Short Black Opera Company lays bare the process of crafting a new opera in Redfern. Presented as a work-in-progress, this new song cycle by Deborah Cheetham is based on Paul Keating’s landmark 1992 address in Redfern Park. Step inside the inner workings of a new, uniquely Australian composition as Deborah discusses and presents the work with her colleagues.

When / June 8 – 11 

In The Beginning Was The Word

Meet Jay K. That’s not his real name. It’s a stage name we made up for him. Jay K is really Jeremy Kleeman and he’s not a rap artist or a street poet. He’s an opera singer. In the Victorian Opera’s In the Beginning Was the Word, Jeremy and his opera singer friends will be schooled in the art of improvisation by the incredible Casey Bennetto (KEATING! the musical, ABC’s Spicks And Specks and The Threepenny Opera). First Jeremy and his friends perform a 12th century mix tape of street poetry, compiled by Richard Gill who will join them on stage. Then watch Casey Bennetto riff on the originals like never before, making old school the new cool.

When / June 8 – 11 

Opera Open Mic

On the Saturday night, Richard Gill will host an Open Mic night like no other. With the incomparable Casey Bennetto as accompanist, there’ll be a parade of opera divas and wannabes, from the trained to the novice, from the bass to the soprano, all singing their souls out. And with a gong in the wings, there’ll never be a dull moment. So, expect the unexpected, hear some epic voices let loose and let the songs take hold. 

When / June 9

Merlyn Quaife: One on One

The ultimate in exclusive operatic experiences is a private attendance with the extraordinary soprano Merlyn Quaife. You’ll be met at the box office, plied with champagne, accompanied to a secret location and witness a degustation of magnificent arias and songs for solo voice with up to three of your friends. Curated by Matthew Lutton, who will personally be on-hand to discuss the music with you, this is your chance to be one-on-one with a master of the form on full voice. From Handel and Purcell, all the way to Schubert and Strauss, this is top flight opera up close and personal.

When / June 8 – 10  


Chamber Made Opera and Rawcus transform the Beckett Theatre into a living room of couches and song. Originally presented in a private home, this beautiful improvisation on Henry Purcell’s music went on sale to subscribers last year and has already sold out to subscribers. If you missed out, you can call the box office to put your name on the waiting list should any spare sofas pop up.

When / June 6 – 10


Produced by /
Short Black Opera Company
Director / Cameron Menzies
Composition / Deborah Cheetham (Soprano)
Musical Director / Toni Lalich (Piano)
Performed by / Deborah Cheetham, Toni Lalich, Stephen Grant & Tiriki Onus


Musical Director / Richard Gill
Director of Improvisation / Casey Bennetto
Tenor / Carlos Bárcenas
Tenor / Timothy Reynolds
Bass / Jeremy Kleeman


Director / Matthew Lutton
Lighting Design / Lucy Birkinshaw
Performed by / Merlyn Quaife & Caroline Almonte (Piano)


Produced by / Chamber Made Opera & rawcus
Director / Kate Sulan
Composition & Musical Performance / Ida Duelund Hansen (Voice, Double Bass)
Assistant Director / Nilgun Guven
Costume & Set Design / Emily Barrie