Australian-Icelandic opera created on the web

Icelandic composer, Hildigunnur Rúnarsdóttir.

A NEW chamber opera created by web exchanges between Australia and Iceland is coming to Canberra on Friday.

“Traversing the Void” shall be carried out in Canberra by the augmented Kanimbla Quartet from the Blue Mountains and as soloist, visiting soprano Hallveig Rúnarsdóttir, named classical singer of the 12 months within the Icelandic Music Awards in 2013 and once more in 2018.

Conceived after an opportunity assembly between Wentworth Falls singer-composer-performer Josephine Truman and Icelandic composer Hildigunnur Rúnarsdóttir, who was visiting Australia on the time, the work had its first Australian airing in Springwood on March 11, but it surely had beforehand been carried out in Reykjavik and was rebroadcast by Iceland Radio.

The 42-minute opera for soprano and small ensemble is written in in eight contrasting actions.

Librettist Josephine Truman.

Truman, with a background as a printed poet and a author of scripts for radio, centred the work round themes of the Blue Mountains as seen by the eyes of a cockatoo, with references to bushfires, climate-change and human existential anxiousness.

In seeming preparation for “Traversing the Void”, Truman’s radiophonic fee “The Bridge to Otherness”, was broadcast in 2012 by  WDR3 Germany Broadcasting. That work centered on the area of the Blue Mountains and featured interviews with locals, together with Gundungarra Trial elders, anthropologists, writers and artists and immigrants, additionally utilizing  native birdsong and native environmental sounds recorded by Truman.

“Traversing the Void” was conceived when Hildigunnur and her associate Jon Stefansson turned up at  a small choral competition in Glenbrook and began chatting with Truman about bushwalks within the Blue Mountains.

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Digital conversations adopted and so they each determined to embark on a brand new modern chamber opera, with Truman writing the libretto and Hildigunnur the music. In 2014 Truman obtained a “new work” grant from the Australia Council to collaborate as librettist and ultimately in in February 2021, “Traversing the Void” was born.

“The thought was floated I would prefer to sing the work in Iceland however covid intervened,” Truman says.

As an alternative, it was Hildigunnur’s sister Hallveig who sang the work with the Camerartica Quartet on the Harpa theatre in Reyjkavic, the place it obtained a standing ovation.

Right here in Canberra, this system shall be expanded shall be backed by a recital from the ANU Choral Society of three songs by Hildigunnur.

The Kanimbla quartet. L to R, Rebecca Daniel, Elizabeth Cooney, Trish Mc Meekin, Sam Harding.

As effectively, there shall be performances of works linked thematically to the opera, “Blue Mountains Suite” by Kanimbla director Rebecca Daniels, the Gloria from “Missa Brevis” by Penelope Thwaites and “Requiem” by New Mexico musician Eliza Gilkyson.

“Traversing the Void”, Wesley Music Centre, March 17.


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Ian Meikle, editor