A Melbournian who wonders as I wander. I have spent a lot of life colouring in moments and take great pleasure in creative expression of experience. Interested in Design, Art, Film, Photography, Painting and all things French.
Let your spirit soar at an opera about flight
An accessible opera, celebrating the life of an under appreciated man.
It was the opening of the new state theatre at the Arts Centre in 1984, when Melbourne Composer Barry Conyngham first paid musical tribute to pioneer aeronautical engineer Lawrence Hargrave. This week is the first time since then, the opera dedicated to his life story Fly, has returned to the stage. This is an unmissable opportunity to immerse yourself in 85 minutes of our cultural history.
Australians have a complex when it comes to the rest of the world. In their credited irreverence are traces of self resignation. We are so far away, our dreams held abroad, it is easy to feel they could be forgotten. Lawrence Hargrave felt this way, although he spent a lifetime trying to forget his powerlessness in tinkering. Trying to hide from the pain of being passed over.
Hargrave had a valuable mind which was picked well clean by the rest of the world in the race to fly. Shying from the vulgarity of desiring fame, Hargrave overlooked his deserved rights to some self-respect. He never took out any patents on his work and in the commons of social memory, his name is only vaguely associated with the flight obsession that consumed him. Fly is Barry Conynhams's gift to Lawrence of a patent on his life's work.
Presented by Lyric, Fly is a chamber opera accessible to all. Held at 45 downstairs, a basement artspace situated at the top of Flinders Ln. Enter through the same door as the renowned restaurant Cumulus, then down three flights of stairs. This low key staging of high art cuts through its intimidation and as the first notes of the music feather across the stage, it is clear why opera was chosen as the perfect medium through which to tell Hargrave's story.
Opera at its heart is flight. The echo of the voice calls your imagination to a windy hillside and you can easily capture that carefree sensation of whirling in the wind in the hum of the voice. The harp in the orchestra adds just the right tone and the story unfolds complemented by the simple setting. The ambience of the turn of the century through the costume and space is appealingly conveyed.
The music is glorious but as this is a basement it is exceedingly cold. Although your soul is warmed by the production, I recommend bringing additional coats, especially with how icy Melbourne weather is at the moment.
Hargrave is played by international baritone Sam-Robert Smith. The performers, Lisette Bolton, Shakira Dugan, Sam Robert-Smith, Cameron Sibly and Caroline Vercoe, all bring personality and colour as his family life is brought to life through their performance.
The Artistic Director, Pat Miller, has sensitively created a setting in which your imagination can be carried away. 'Observation of the waves and movement of wildlife led Hargrave to consider flight' and the combination of the seg, the space and music make you able to picture vividly in your head what Hargrave sees as he narrates memories.
Lara Kerestes returns to Lyric Opera for Fly after her wildly successful direction of il signor Bruschino in 2016 The Libretto for the opera was written by Murray Copland.
If you have seen opera before or even if you haven't, you should consider booking a ticket to Fly because it is glorious and heartbreaking. Hargrave was credited with creating the Box Kite and going to see this opera feels a bit like going to fly a kite on a windy day with all that sense of lightness and joy and soaring spirit. It is a chance to remember a forgotten man and value the sentiment of not giving up on your dreams.