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I lived for art, I lived for love: The magic of libretto


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David Mitchell found it ‘addictive and gratifying – not unlike sudoku’. Anna Goldsworthy has written one for children’s classic The Magic Pudding. And Ian Rankin wrote one for Scottish Opera.

What is it? The libretto.

And it’s a form that’s increasingly popular, stretching the creative muscles of some of the world’s best writers.

This special event, in partnership with Chamber Made Opera, looks at what happens to words when they are set to music – and explores the rewards and challenges for writers working with the form.

Join composer Brett Dean, librettists Peter Goldsworthy and Joanna Murray-Smith as they sing the praises of the libretto, with Caroline Lee.


Joanna Murray-Smith

Joanna Murray-Smith is a Melbourne-based playwright, screenwriter and novelist. Her plays, which include Honour, Rapture, Bombshells, Nightfall, Redemption, Love Child and Flame, have been produced around the world. Honour has been produced in over two dozen countries, including productions on Broad... Read more

Brett Dean

Following studies in Australia, Brett Dean travelled to Germany in 1985 and became a member of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra as viola player. In addition to his orchestral career, he has performed as a soloist. In 1988, he began composing, initially as an arranger. Since 2000, he has lived in Au... Read more

Caroline Lee

Caroline is a performer, writer and editor. Her novel, Stripped, was serialised in 2008-2010 in Meanjin. Most recently she has appeared in Bell Shakespeare’s production of Phèdre by Racine, played the role of Venus in The Minotaur Trilogy with Chamber Made Opera as part of the Melbourne Internati... Read more

Peter Goldsworthy

Peter Goldsworthy wrote the libretto for Richard Mills’ multi-Helpmann award winning opera Batavia. His most recent songwriting collaboration was with composer Graeme Koehne, on The Ring-tone Cycle – a Cabaret Quintet for Piano Trio, Soprano and iPhone, which premiered at last year’s A... Read more


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