y Voss : Opera in Two Acts After the Novel by Patrick White single work   musical theatre   opera   - Two acts
Adaptation of Voss : A Novel Patrick White 1957 single work novel
Note: Libretto by David Malouf, music by Richard Meale.
Issue Details: First known date: 1980-1989 1980-1989
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Voss was adapted into an opera by author David Malouf and composer Richard Meale. It was first performed by the Australian Opera in Adelaide, March 1986.

Production Details

  • First performed by the Australian Opera at the Adelaide Festival Centre, 1 March 1986.

    Director: Jim Sharman.

    Designer: Brian Thomson.

    Cast: Geoffrey Chard (Voss), Robert Eddie (Judd), Robert Gard (Le Mesurier), Anne-Maree McDonald (Belle), John Pringle (Palfreyman), Marilyn Richardson (Laura Trevelyan), and Gregory Tomlinson (Harry Robards).

    Performed with the same cast and crew at the Opera Theatre, Sydney, between 5 June and 28 June 1986.

    Performed with the same cast and crew at the State Theatre, Melbourne, between 14 March and 2 April 1987.

    Restaged with the same crew at the Opera Theatre, Sydney, between 8 October and 26 October 1990.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Grosvenor Place, Sydney City, Inner Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales,: Australian Music Centre , 1980-1989 .
      Extent: 1 score; 2v.; 1-175, 176-442p.p.
      Note/s:
      • 'This score is a facsimile of the composer's score held at Sounds Australian (the Australian Music Centre).' (t.p. verso)
    • Grosvenor Place, Sydney City, Inner Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales,: Australian Music Centre , 1986 .
      Alternative title: Voss : An Opera in Two Acts after the Novel by Patrick White
      Extent: 29p.
      Note/s:
      • Libretto only.

Works about this Work

Fly Away Peter : When Australian Literature Goes to the Opera Michael Halliwell , 2015 single work column
— Appears in: The Conversation , 1 May 2015;
Modern Opera's Literary Success Story Michael Halliwell , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Quadrant , October vol. 55 no. 10 2011; (p. 86-90)
Towards an Australian Art-Music Canon Joel Crotty , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Quadrant , October vol. 55 no. 10 2011; (p. 91-97)

"is there an Australian art-music canon? Does Australian music feature in any lists of 1001 works to be listened to before you die?' Joel Crotty.

A Feast of a Meale Matthew Clayfield , 2010 single work column
— Appears in: The Australian , 12 February 2010; (p. 16)
Not Walking Falling : Performing Intimate Immensity Rachel Fensham , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Halfway House : The Poetics of Australian Spaces 2010; (p. 195-213)
The Long Quest for Voss's Artistic Soul Janet Wilson , 2009 single work column
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 2 May 2009; (p. 4-5)
The White Stuff : Visitors Join Voss Journey Sarah Parkes , 2009 single work column
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 16 May 2009; (p. 12)
y The Voss Journey : Program Canberra : National Film and Sound Archive , 2009 Z1646283 2009 reference 'The Voss Journey' - four days of events, seminars, concerts and films inspired by Patrick White's novel, Voss (1957). Coordinated by the National Film and Sound Archive and presented in association with the Canberra International Music Festival, 'The Voss Journey' led participants on a journey through Canberra's cultural institutions, 14-17 May 2009.
Voss, du roman de Patrick White au livret de David Malouf : simple adaptation ou transformation de l'imaginaire national? Voss, from Patrick White's Novel to David Malouf's Libretto : A Faithful Adaptation or a Betrayal of White's Imagining of the Nation? Anne Le Guellec-Minel , 2008 single work criticism
— Appears in: Revue LISA , vol. 6 no. 2 2008;

When a couple of years before Australia's Bicentenary celebrations, David Malouf accepted the commission from Opera Australia, the Sydney Opera company, to adapt Patrick White's novel Voss for the operatic stage, he was certainly aware that this meant participating in the Establishment's efforts to promote a culturally exalted Australian identity on the European model. When the opera was premiered in 1986, the libretto was praised both by the critics and the public for its success in making use of the dramatic potential of the novel and, beyond that, in bringing out the musical possibilities of a style which had often been described as difficult and obscure. This article first undertakes to analyse a few aspects of Malouf's generic rewriting of the source text, which suggest that insofar as the opera was designed as a monumental celebration to Australian achievement, the libretto does seem to betray, to a certain extent, the novel's criticism of heroic posturing and complacent patriotism, and to collaborate in the institutional recuperation of what remains a controversial work. However, a closer study of the way in which Malouf writes his own homoerotic poetry into White's narrative reveals that it subtly contributes to maintaining a truly 'post-colonial' ambivalence within the apparent conventionality of the national celebration. -- Author's abstract

Words to That Effect Anna McAlister , 2007 single work criticism
— Appears in: Limelight , August 2007; (p. 34-36)
Three pairs of Australian composers and librettists discuss the enormous collaboration involved in creating an opera.
'A Comfortable Society' : The 1950s and Opera in Australia Michael Halliwell , 2004 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australasian Drama Studies , October no. 45 2004; (p. 10-29)
"Singing the Nation" : Word/Music Tension in the Opera Voss Michael Halliwell , 2001 single work criticism
— Appears in: Word and Music Studies: Essays on the Song Cycle and on Defining the Field 2001; (p. 25-48)
'The Space Between' : Postcolonial Opera? - The Meale/Malouf Adaptation of 'Voss' Michael Halliwell , 1996 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australasian Drama Studies , April no. 28 1996; (p. 87-98)
David Malouf the Librettist Annie Patrick , 1994 single work criticism
— Appears in: Provisional Maps : Critical Essays on David Malouf 1994; (p. 133-147)
Imaginary Lives of the Defeated in the Realm of Alienation 1990 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 21 February 1990; (p. 33)
A Haunting Vision Brian Hoad , 1990 single work review
— Appears in: The Bulletin , 23 October vol. 112 no. 5742 1990; (p. 111)

— Review of Voss : Opera in Two Acts After the Novel by Patrick White David Malouf 1980-1989 single work musical theatre
A Saga of Metamorphosis James Waites , 1990 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Review , November no. 26 1990; (p. 16)

— Review of Voss : Opera in Two Acts After the Novel by Patrick White David Malouf 1980-1989 single work musical theatre
Irony of Australian Ambiguity Fred Blanks , 1990 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 10 October 1990; (p. 14)

— Review of Voss : Opera in Two Acts After the Novel by Patrick White David Malouf 1980-1989 single work musical theatre
Memorable Voss a Fitting Requiem for White Maria Prerauer , 1990 single work review
— Appears in: The Australian , 10 October 1990; (p. 12)

— Review of Voss : Opera in Two Acts After the Novel by Patrick White David Malouf 1980-1989 single work musical theatre
An Interview with David Malouf Richard Tipping (interviewer), 1989 single work interview
— Appears in: Southerly , September vol. 49 no. 3 1989; (p. 492-502)
Untitled R. Aldritch , 1986 single work review
— Appears in: Campaign Australia , no. 127 1986; (p. 38-39)

— Review of Voss : Opera in Two Acts After the Novel by Patrick White David Malouf 1980-1989 single work musical theatre
Untitled J. Carmody , 1986 single work review
— Appears in: National Times , 13-19 June 1986; (p. 31)

— Review of Voss : Opera in Two Acts After the Novel by Patrick White David Malouf 1980-1989 single work musical theatre
Untitled J. Carmody , 1986 single work review
— Appears in: National Times , 7-13 March 1986; (p. 32)

— Review of Voss : Opera in Two Acts After the Novel by Patrick White David Malouf 1980-1989 single work musical theatre
Untitled Maria Prerauer , 1986 single work review
— Appears in: The Australian , 9 June 1986; (p. 10)

— Review of Voss : Opera in Two Acts After the Novel by Patrick White David Malouf 1980-1989 single work musical theatre
Untitled J. Sykes , 1986 single work review
— Appears in: 24 Hours , vol. 11 no. 2 1986; (p. 12-14)

— Review of Voss : Opera in Two Acts After the Novel by Patrick White David Malouf 1980-1989 single work musical theatre
The Transformation of Voss - Now Music Has Been Made of it 1987 single work review
— Appears in: This Australia , Summer vol. 6 no. 1 1987; (p. 67-68)

— Review of Voss : Opera in Two Acts After the Novel by Patrick White David Malouf 1980-1989 single work musical theatre
A Haunting Vision Brian Hoad , 1990 single work review
— Appears in: The Bulletin , 23 October vol. 112 no. 5742 1990; (p. 111)

— Review of Voss : Opera in Two Acts After the Novel by Patrick White David Malouf 1980-1989 single work musical theatre
A Saga of Metamorphosis James Waites , 1990 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Review , November no. 26 1990; (p. 16)

— Review of Voss : Opera in Two Acts After the Novel by Patrick White David Malouf 1980-1989 single work musical theatre
Irony of Australian Ambiguity Fred Blanks , 1990 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 10 October 1990; (p. 14)

— Review of Voss : Opera in Two Acts After the Novel by Patrick White David Malouf 1980-1989 single work musical theatre
Memorable Voss a Fitting Requiem for White Maria Prerauer , 1990 single work review
— Appears in: The Australian , 10 October 1990; (p. 12)

— Review of Voss : Opera in Two Acts After the Novel by Patrick White David Malouf 1980-1989 single work musical theatre
'A Comfortable Society' : The 1950s and Opera in Australia Michael Halliwell , 2004 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australasian Drama Studies , October no. 45 2004; (p. 10-29)
'The Space Between' : Postcolonial Opera? - The Meale/Malouf Adaptation of 'Voss' Michael Halliwell , 1996 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australasian Drama Studies , April no. 28 1996; (p. 87-98)
Interview : David Malouf Jim Davidson (interviewer), 1980 single work interview
— Appears in: Meanjin , Spring vol. 39 no. 3 1980; (p. 323-334) Sideways from the Page : The Meanjin Interviews 1983; (p. 263-279) David Malouf : Johnno, Short Stories, Poems, Essays and Interview 1990; (p. 285-298)
Words to That Effect Anna McAlister , 2007 single work criticism
— Appears in: Limelight , August 2007; (p. 34-36)
Three pairs of Australian composers and librettists discuss the enormous collaboration involved in creating an opera.
The Long Quest for Voss's Artistic Soul Janet Wilson , 2009 single work column
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 2 May 2009; (p. 4-5)
The White Stuff : Visitors Join Voss Journey Sarah Parkes , 2009 single work column
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 16 May 2009; (p. 12)
y The Voss Journey : Program Canberra : National Film and Sound Archive , 2009 Z1646283 2009 reference 'The Voss Journey' - four days of events, seminars, concerts and films inspired by Patrick White's novel, Voss (1957). Coordinated by the National Film and Sound Archive and presented in association with the Canberra International Music Festival, 'The Voss Journey' led participants on a journey through Canberra's cultural institutions, 14-17 May 2009.
Voss, du roman de Patrick White au livret de David Malouf : simple adaptation ou transformation de l'imaginaire national? Voss, from Patrick White's Novel to David Malouf's Libretto : A Faithful Adaptation or a Betrayal of White's Imagining of the Nation? Anne Le Guellec-Minel , 2008 single work criticism
— Appears in: Revue LISA , vol. 6 no. 2 2008;

When a couple of years before Australia's Bicentenary celebrations, David Malouf accepted the commission from Opera Australia, the Sydney Opera company, to adapt Patrick White's novel Voss for the operatic stage, he was certainly aware that this meant participating in the Establishment's efforts to promote a culturally exalted Australian identity on the European model. When the opera was premiered in 1986, the libretto was praised both by the critics and the public for its success in making use of the dramatic potential of the novel and, beyond that, in bringing out the musical possibilities of a style which had often been described as difficult and obscure. This article first undertakes to analyse a few aspects of Malouf's generic rewriting of the source text, which suggest that insofar as the opera was designed as a monumental celebration to Australian achievement, the libretto does seem to betray, to a certain extent, the novel's criticism of heroic posturing and complacent patriotism, and to collaborate in the institutional recuperation of what remains a controversial work. However, a closer study of the way in which Malouf writes his own homoerotic poetry into White's narrative reveals that it subtly contributes to maintaining a truly 'post-colonial' ambivalence within the apparent conventionality of the national celebration. -- Author's abstract

A Feast of a Meale Matthew Clayfield , 2010 single work column
— Appears in: The Australian , 12 February 2010; (p. 16)
Not Walking Falling : Performing Intimate Immensity Rachel Fensham , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Halfway House : The Poetics of Australian Spaces 2010; (p. 195-213)
Modern Opera's Literary Success Story Michael Halliwell , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Quadrant , October vol. 55 no. 10 2011; (p. 86-90)
Towards an Australian Art-Music Canon Joel Crotty , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Quadrant , October vol. 55 no. 10 2011; (p. 91-97)

"is there an Australian art-music canon? Does Australian music feature in any lists of 1001 works to be listened to before you die?' Joel Crotty.

An Interview with David Malouf Richard Tipping (interviewer), 1989 single work interview
— Appears in: Southerly , September vol. 49 no. 3 1989; (p. 492-502)
David Malouf the Librettist Annie Patrick , 1994 single work criticism
— Appears in: Provisional Maps : Critical Essays on David Malouf 1994; (p. 133-147)
A 133-Year Search May End in Voss Brian Hoad , 1980 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Bulletin , 2 December vol. 101 no. 5240 1980; (p. 76,78,80,83-84)
Walking on the Bottom of the Sea Jim Sharman , 1988 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Australian Listener , 19-25 November 1988; (p. 6-8)
Exploring the Voss Libretto David Malouf , 1988 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Australian Listener , 19-25 November 1988; (p. 9)
Exploring Changes in Voss Roger Covell (interviewer), 1986 single work interview
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 31 May 1986; (p. 48)
Imaginary Lives of the Defeated in the Realm of Alienation 1990 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 21 February 1990; (p. 33)
Voss : White, Malouf and Meale Michael Ewans , 1989 single work criticism
— Appears in: Meanjin , Spring vol. 48 no. 3 1989; (p. 513-525)
Last amended 12 May 2014 15:18:23
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