Breaking Glass


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Quadruple bill of


Music Georgia Scott
Text Pierce Wilcox
Director Danielle Maas


Music & Text Peggy Polias
Director Clemence Williams


Music & Text Josephine Macken
Director Danielle Maas


Music & Text Bree van Reyk
Director Clemence Williams

world premiere co-presented with Carriageworks

    • Conductor/Piano
    • Jack Symonds
    • Set & Costume Design
    • Charles Davis
    • Lighting Design
    • Alexander Berlage
    • AV Design
    • David Bergman
    • Sound Design and Audio Production
    • Benjamin Carey
    • Singers
    • Jessica O’Donoghue, Jane Sheldon, Simon Lobelson & Mitchell Riley
    • Ensemble
    • James Wannan (violin/viola), Ben Ward (double bass), Lamorna Nightingale (flute),
      Jason Noble (clarinet), Alison Pratt (percussion)
    • Writer & Dramaturg
    • Pierce Wilcox
    • Assistant Conductor
    • Huw Belling
    • Production Manager
    • Jason Thelwell
    • Stage Management
    • Ellen Castles, Ayah Tayeh
    • Subtitles
    • Johannes MacDonald

Filmed and edited by Hospital Hill

Content advisory: This production explores themes of suicidal ideation, and harassment.

Even in ideal circumstances, putting on new opera is next to impossible. Towards the end of March, the circumstances the whole country found itself in were about as far from ideal as could be imagined, yet we had a new work on the verge of premiering.

Breaking Glass is the result of two years working with four exceptionally talented composers whose voices are essential as opera moves into the third decade of the 21st century. The stories these women are telling through this endlessly reinvented artform could not and would not be told anywhere else, by anyone else. Opera still has a long way to go in addressing its historical inequities, but this project is the natural outgrowth of SCO’s commitment to gender equality in the lead artists making our work. Quite apart from representation, most importantly the quality of the music, text and possibilities for drama afforded by these pieces is outstanding and it has been a great pleasure watching them evolve into an exciting and diverse evening of genuinely new propositions for the future of opera.

In less than half an hour each, these operas instantly and incisively create new worlds: The Tent is a deeply original sonic environment of great subtlety, ambiguity and transformed expression, just as Commute is direct, propulsive and gritty, gradually revealing a hopeful dawn. Her Dark Marauder is an expressionistic nightmare, powerfully amplifying the detail of the human breath and psyche, whilst The Invisible Bird is a true epic travelling through comedy, repose and lament, re-emerging with a visionary energy.

SCO was – just – in a position to fully record this production before Carriageworks closed its doors like the rest of the country’s arts institutions. The editing process has been a great challenge to marry audio recordings to video documentation, but we are immensely proud of the result and, even though it is a shame not to get the opportunity to perform to a live audience, it felt like both an enormous risk and privilege to be making something out of nothing when many around us were losing hope and the world was shutting down.

SCO’s greatest thanks are to the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, whose Composing Women Program begat this project and to our home at Carriageworks who so consistently support us in being this country’s most active and fearless creators of new opera.

Click here for Directors’ and Composers’ notes

      • Production Supporters
    • ‘The Tent’ is proudly supported by & dedicated to Penelope Seidler AM
      ‘Commute’ is proudly supported by & dedicated to Prof Di Yerbury AO


    • Producers: Anonymous (1) · John Barrer · Neil Burns ·
      Martin Dickson AM & Susie Dickson ·
      The Johnson Family Foundation through the Myer Foundation ·
      The Russel Mills Foundation ·
      The Sydney Community Foundation’s Women Composers Fund and its associated donors


    • Associate Producers: Jim Alexander & Kathir Ponnusamy ·
      Andrew Andersons AO · Gil Appleton · John Kaldor AO · James Williams

      • Acknowledgements
      • Breaking Glass is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts advisory body, the NSW Government through Create NSW and Creative Partnerships Australia through ACF Boost. Composing Women, a postgraduate composition program at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, the University of Sydney, provides professional development aimed at fostering and empowering women composers.


Please note that this online version of Breaking Glass marries material from two seperate rehearsals: it combines the audio recording from the final musical rehearsal with stage performances from the first (and last!) technical rehearsal on the eve of the closure of the venue. It is by no means our usual method of creating a new work and we thank our cast, musicians, crew and creative team for working immensely hard – in spite of everything – to make this extraordinary hybrid available.

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