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Antarctica – Holland Festival

Contemporary opera about the mysterious southern continent

5 6 Jun

Australian composer Mary Finsterer’s new work 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.

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 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 and librettist 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.’

READ MORE about the background and the making of this opera.


Co-production by Sydney Chamber Opera, Asko|Schönberg, Holland Festival, supported by Carriageworks, NSW Government through Create NSW. Antarctica is published by Schott Music.

Antarctica has been commissioned by Asko|Schönberg, with the generous assistance of The Julian Burnside AO Trust for Mary Finsterer and the University of Tasmania.

Mary Finsterer

Antarctica - world première


Tom Wright libretto
Jack Symonds conductor
Imara Savage director
Jane Sheldon singer
Jessica O’Donoghue singer
Anna Fraser singer
Michael Petruccelli singer
Simon Lobelson singer
Elizabeth Gadsby set & costume designer
Mike Daly film maker
Alexander Berlage lighting designer
Arne Bock sound design

photo: Annie Spratt/edited by Dean Golja

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Jun. 5




Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ

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Jun. 6




Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ

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