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Olive Pink Opera

Picture the sunset in Alice Springs. The hills glow in pinky-orange hues, the moon rises, the stars begin to twinkle. Now, picture sunset in the Olive Pink Botanic Garden. Birds are calling, you hear soft whispers of insects, a wallaby bounces across the hill. Add to this the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir singing a soft, soothing, stunning hymn, setting a beautiful dream scene to the contemporary opera you’re about to experience.

By Zoya Godoroja-Prieckaerts

This is the opening to the Olive Pink Opera, a new and exquisite performance in this year’s Desert Song Festival.

Over eight years ago, award-winning composer, Anne Boyd, started working on a trilogy of operas about significant Australian women, all of whom worked closely with Indigenous people. Artist, anthropologist and outspoken advocate for Indigenous rights, Olive Pink, was one of these remarkable women.

Shaped by stories from Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in respectful collaboration, the opera explores the last decades of Pink’s life when she and Johnny Jampitjinpa, a Warlpiri man, passionately set up the botanical garden to preserve the native plants around Alice Springs.

Set outdoors, the garden itself is at once a key character in the opera, creating a truly visually striking performance. And what of the sound, the soul of this unique and original opera?

“I suppose the best description is ‘contemporary art music’. It is operatic, but not in the style of Italian opera from the 19th Century that we’re all familiar with. It’s very contemporary – the music is very accessible,” says Olive Pink Opera Producer, Claire Kilgariff.

“Anne is influenced by Asian traditions of music and also interested in Aboriginal music, the spirituality of Aboriginal people, and their connection to land. In a way, the opera tries to express that deep spirituality.”

The stunning Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir is joined by local and celebrated national musicians, setting the scene for a mesmerising experience. This dreamlike scene – with string quartets, woodwind, keyboard, percussion, beautiful songs of stories and nature to embrace it all – is sure to feed our senses and warm our bodies and minds.

Olive Pink Opera
COST $71.50-$199

Photos: Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir perform at Olive Pink Opera

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