at Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, Southern Cross Lawn

Scalia/Ginsburg: An Opera by Derrick Wang and Across the Aisle: A Panel Discussion on Justice and Jurisprudence

Join us for an unforgettable evening in the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne Gardens, as we honour the legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg with a panel conversation and the Australian premiere of Derrick Wang’s opera Scalia/Ginsburg.

Scalia/Ginsburg is a comic opera about the close and unlikely friendship between US Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia. The two towering legal figures, who publicly disagreed on many legal and ideological questions, enjoyed a decades-long friendship and a shared passion for opera. 

Created by composer-librettist Derrick Wang, this one-act opera premiered at a festival in Virginia in 2015 with Ginsburg in attendance. In February, it's coming to Melbourne Gardens for one night only.

At this very special event, we’ll bring together some of our brightest legal minds – including Louise Milligan, the Honourable Marcia Neave, Adrienne Stone and host Julian Burnside QC – for Across the Aisle, a panel discussion on legal history, blazed trails and giants of jurisprudence; followed by a short intermission and a performance of Scalia/Ginsburg by Orchestra Victoria.

Roll up with a picnic to the Australian Shakespeare Company’s lawn, as the Bard hands over his stage to the Notorious RBG.

Do you have a question to be considered by the panel? Submit it here.

Presented in partnership with Orchestra Victoria and in collaboration with Royal Botanic Gardens. Supported by Glenn Elston and the Australian Shakespeare Company.



Portrait of Julian Burnside

Julian Burnside

Julian Burnside is a Melbourne barrister. He joined the Bar in 1976 and took silk in 1989. He specialises in commercial litigation, and has acted in many very contentious cases - the MUA Waterfront dispute; the Cash-for-Comment enquiry; cases for Alan Bond and Rose Porteous - but has become known for his human rights work and has acted pro bono in many refugee cases. 

He is an outspoken opponent of the mistreatment of people who come to Australia seeking protection from persecution. His latest book is Watching Out: Reflections on Justice and Injustice (Scribe).

Portrait of Marcia Neave

Marcia Neave

The Hon. Marcia Neave AO has had an outstanding career as a judge, lawyer, academic and public policy maker.

From February 2015 to March 2016, she was the chair of the Royal Commission into Family Violence. That Royal Commission was entrusted with the task of making recommendations regarding the family violence support system and justice system in Victoria, including government and non-government organisations, courts, police, corrections and child protection. The Commission's Report including its 227 recommendations were provided to the Victorian Government on 29 March 2016.

Prior to her role as Commissioner, for nine years she was a Justice of the Court of Appeal at the Supreme Court of Victoria.

Portrait of Louise Milligan

Louise Milligan

Louise Milligan is an investigative reporter for ABC TV's Four Corners and the bestselling author of Cardinal, which won the Walkley Book Award and broke massive international news preceding the court case and successive and ultimately successful appeals involving one of the most senior members of the Catholic Church hierarchy. Among many awards for her work, she's also the recipient of the 2019 Press Freedom Medal. Her latest book is Witness: An investigation into the brutal cost of seeking justice.

Portrait of Adrienne Stone

Adrienne Stone

Adrienne Stone is Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor and director of the  Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies at Melbourne Law School and an Australian Laureate Fellow. 

She writes and lectures about constitutional law in Australia and globally and has special expertise on freedom of expression. She  is the co-author of Open Minds: Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech to be published by Black Inc in March 2021. Adrienne has a strong interest in US constitutional law developed while studying at Columbia Law School in the 1990s, where she also had the honour of meeting Justice Ginsburg on several occasions.

Portrait of Nicolette Fraillon

Nicolette Fraillon

Nicolette Fraillon AM is Artistic Director of Orchestra Victoria and Music Director and Chief Conductor of The Australian Ballet. 

Nicolette began her music studies on violin and piano at an early age, furthering her instrumental studies at the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna and in Hannover. In 1990 she moved to the Netherlands, where she became Assistant Musical Director for the 1991 – 92 season of Les Misérables, was invited to conduct for the Nederlands Dans Theater, and became Music Director and Chief Conductor of the National Ballet of the Netherlands. During the following five years she worked with countless orchestras in Northern Europe before taking up the position of Director at the School of Music, Australian National University, and continuing her conducting work with Australian and international companies.

Portrait of Christopher Hillier

Christopher Hillier

Christopher Hillier’s most recent appearances for Opera Australia have included Zurga in a new production of The Pearl Fishers, Belcore in L’elisir d’amore, The Convict in The Rabbits, Dancairo in Carmen and The Count in their national tour of The Marriage of Figaro. In concert, he sang The Celebrant (Bernstein’s Mass) at the Sydney Opera House, Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony for Sydney Philharmonia and undertook a tour to China as Papageno (The Magic Flute).

He joined the principal ensemble of Opera Australia in 2012 and made his international stage debut as Dr. Malatesta in Don Pasquale in Tokyo, Japan.

Portrait of Sofia Troncoso

Sofia Troncoso

American soprano Sofia Troncoso, Opera Queensland 2021 Young Artist, is an accomplished singer in numerous styles spanning from early music to new music and is an especially accomplished interpreter of Mozart. Recent highlights include Papagena/Magic Flute for Scottish Opera, described as ‘charming and witty’ in the Scottish Herald, a critically acclaimed debut with Longborough Festival Opera as Poppea/L'incoronazione de Poppea, Gianetta/Elixir of Love for Into Opera, Adele/Fledermaus with Diva Opera.


Portrait of Samuel Sakker

Samuel Sakker

Tenor Samuel Sakker holds a BMus from Queensland Conservatorium and was a young artist at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Career highlights include: Alfredo (La traviata, The Royal Opera, Covent Garden), Mozart Requiem with Sir Antonio Pappano and Joyce DiDonato (Royal Opera Japan Tour), Rodolfo (La Boheme, Scottish Opera) Don Jose (Carmen, Danish National Opera), Florestan (Fidelio, Lyric Opera of Ireland), Cpt. Nolan (Grammy-nominated Doctor Atomic, BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by John Adams), Mahler’s Das Lied von Der Erde (Stadttheater Klagenfurt & The Royal Ballet, Covent Garden), and Erik (Der fliegende Holländer, Angers Nantes Opéra, Cape Town Opera, and Nederlands Reisopera).