Opera Queensland and Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University are collaborating to present the inaugural New Opera Workshop 2019 (NOW 2019) in Brisbane from 5 to 7 April 2019.

The three-day event gathers leading Australian and international opera composers, directors, librettists and producers to explore the future of opera and interrogate the art form.

Renowned author and librettist David Malouf will deliver the keynote address; ARIA Award-winning musician Megan Washington will preview excerpts from a new opera commissioned by Opera Queensland and Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University; and participants can attend a performance of the Helpmann Award-winning A Flowering Tree with an introduction by guest conductor and Opera Queensland’s artist-in-residence, Natalie Murray Beale.

Opera Queensland Artistic Director and CEO Patrick Nolan says NOW 2019 also features presentations, discussion panels and student showcases, spotlighting eight composers from Queensland and New South Wales.

“So much of opera centres on works from the distant past perhaps because the challenge of creating new opera requires a huge investment of time, resources, creativity and energy to make it work,” Mr Nolan said.

“NOW 2019 provides an opportunity for us to have a focused conversation and detailed exploration of the form and its future possibilities in the modern world.

“The relationship between Opera Queensland and Queensland Conservatorium couples our understanding of production with the University’s strengths in research. By bringing these two energies together, we hope to build a culture of opera that will lead to the production of successful new works.”

Participants have the opportunity to play a part in the process of creating a new opera when Ms Washington debuts songs from her new work.

Her modern opera is based on the 2017 Stella Prize-shortlisted novel Between a Wolf and a Dog by Georgia Blain and tells a contemporary Australian story of family, fractured relationships and the joyous beauty of being alive.

“Opera is so marvellous in exploring the highs and lows of the human experience and I feel like this story needs that depth of expression that opera provides,” Ms Washington said.

“This is also the first time I am writing something that I don’t have to sing and it feels like putting on wings.

“I can write that note and someone else can figure out how to get there. It’s incredibly liberating and exciting.”

Mr Nolan said Brisbane-born Mr Malouf was passionate about fostering a rich culture of opera in Australia and would inject his wisdom and deep understanding of opera into the NOW 2019 program.

“David brings unparalleled experience and knowledge of Australian opera culture. He is a librettist, was on the board of Opera Australia for many years, and has seen more opera than anyone else I know,” Mr Nolan said.

Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University Director Scott Harrison said NOW 2019 would provide remarkable opportunities for faculty, students and alumni.

“We are delighted to partner with Opera Queensland on the New Opera Workshop 2019,” Professor Harrison said.

“Collaborating on this exciting new initiative will provide the next generation of composers and performers with an opportunity to engage in meaningful creative exchanges and establish enduring professional relationships.

“Our close ties with Opera Queensland have opened up once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for students and alumni, who form the backbone of productions in Australia and on the world stage.”

NOW 2019 coincides with Opera Queensland’s season of John Adams’ A Flowering Tree.

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