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Sydney Festival presents: Antarctica

Contemporary opera about the mysterious southern continent

5 8 Jan 2023

Antarctica 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.’


Co-productie: Sydney Chamber Opera, Asko|Schönberg en Holland Festival, met steun van Carriageworks, NSW Government through Create NSW. Uitgeverij 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.


NB see also our Dutch-Australian concert in the Sydney Festival.

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

Mary Finsterer



Tom Wright libretto
Jane Sheldon, Jessica O’Donoghue, Anna Fraser, Michael Petruccelli, Simon Lobelson singers
Jack Symonds conductor
Imara Savage director
Elizabeth Gadsby set & costume designer
Mike Daly filmmaker
Alexander Berlage lighting designer

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