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All pictures ©Teodoro Wendell / Ada Nieuwendijk

 ‘Sydney Festival opens with a hugely ambitious, exquisitely realised new work from composer Mary Finsterer and librettist Tom Wright.’
The Sydney Morning Herald ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2⁠

‘..we luxuriate in Finsterer’s gorgeous music’
Bachtrack ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⁠

’Antarctica is an intermedial puzzle in which opera, videography, and science come together… Asko|Schönberg, in collaboration with Sydney Chamber Opera, fully commits to this and delivers a colourful, bombastic performance, in which the strings and wind instruments can particularly indulge themselves.’

‘What a magnificent performance!’
Sydney Scoop

‘Antarctica is an achievement of extraordinary beauty.’
Stage Noise

contemporary opera about the mysterious southern continent

Australian composer Mary Finsterer’s Antarctica (2022) explores the historical, mythical and scientific conceptions and stories about the southern continent. With a mesmerising combination of musical elements from early and new styles, we are transported into the world of Antarctica.

This contemporary opera had its world premiere in co-production with Sydney Chamber Opera during the Holland Festival in 2022 and was performed for the first time in Australia on the opening night of the Sydney Festival in 2023. Antarctica is available for international touring. To make this production more accessible to different locations and budgets it will also be available in a uniquely staged concertante version.

libretto Antarctica

The South Pole is one of the last places on earth rarely visited by humans. It is too cold and inaccessible. It is a fruitful source of inspiration for untold stories and histories.

This fictional tale by librettist Tom Wright starts with three characters from the Age of Discovery miraculously conjured from the memory of a young girl: a cartographer, a natural scientist and a philosopher, all with different dreams and expectations concerning the mysterious landscape. Their motivations range from loving curiosity to arrogant possessiveness. But what they find is far greater than themselves.

In order to prepare for her opera, Finsterer organised a symposium at the University of Tasmania where she Tom Wright could meet with scientists from the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies. ‘In an age of increasing concern for our ecology, the displacement of populations and a heightened awareness of how vulnerable our oceans are, Antarctica is a topical story.’

Download the libretto here.

photo impression

‘The fable that Tom and I have created is an interweaving of metaphor, imagined events and mysteries. It is a place where non-human forces are given voice including krill, a ship and ice. It is a place in which to engage the imagination in a poetic, child–like way.’ – Mary Finsterer

In Antarctica, Mary Finsterer, a former student of composer Louis Andriessen, takes her musical cues from early and contemporary music. ‘The music I compose is infused with historical, metaphorical and poetical references. Stylistically, it brings together early musical practices with innovations from the twentieth and twenty-first century, including serial techniques, orchestration and electronics.

Read more about the background and the making of this opera in the ‘backstage area’ of askoschoenberg.nl.

Asko|Schönberg: one of the leading ensembles in new music

Quality, experimentation and innovative programming with an eye for current events are Asko|Schönbergs most important characteristics. Thanks to a wide network of musicians, conductors, composers and versatile young makers and partners from various art disciplines, Asko|Schönberg is able to contribute to the future of performing arts. The ensemble operates around the world right from its home base in Amsterdam. The programming balances out the rich collection of important 20th century composers with the most recent 21st century work, with a strong emphasis on the work of current composers, both of which are performed at various venues, festivals and interdisciplinary performances.


90 minutes


technical rider

Download the technical rider here.



Interested in booking a performance of Antarctica?
Please get in touch with:
Ellis van de Giessen (business director Asko|Schönberg)