THE HOWLING GIRLS 

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2018, 2019

Opera composed by Damien Ricketson

Directed by Adena Jacobs

Commissioned by Sydney Chamber Opera

Produced by Performing Lines

Featuring Jane Sheldon & artists from The House That Dan Built

About the work 

In the weeks following September 11, five young women presented separately to hospitals in New York with identical symptoms. They were unable to swallow and believed that debris from the destruction had lodged in their throats. The surgeon who examined them found no obstruction. This haunting image became the seed for The Howling Girls.

This haunting image became the seed for The Howling Girls. Five young women witness a collective trauma that is impossible to digest. Perhaps this anecdote is a metaphor for violation, the sense of being permeable, the terror that sets in when the familiar systems are collapsing - a larger trauma re-inscribed on the body and on the voice. Perhaps this is also a story which echoes a another collective trauma, that is the history of female ‘hysteria,’ a history of not being believed, of speaking a language deemed irrational and unintelligible.

The Howling Girls explores the medium and metaphor of the voice. Featuring a solitary soprano and a throbbing chorus of young voices, together with an immersive orchestration of theremin, keyboards and electroacoustic music, the score itself is a kind of proto-language, an attempt to communicate in a mode beyond the rational: a sensory spectacle to bypass the brain and work directly on the body.

 

Featuring a solitary soprano and a throbbing chorus of young voices, together with an immersive orchestration of theremin, keyboards and electroacoustic music, the score is a kind of proto-language, an attempt to communicate in a mode beyond the rational: a sensory spectacle to bypass the brain and work directly on the body. Presented by Carriageworks and Sydney Chamber Opera.

WORLD PREMIERE

Premiere season: 28 MAR - 7 APR 2018, Carriageworks, Sydney

Second season: 31 OCT 2019, Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre, Tokyo Festival

Awards 

Co-winner of the 2018 Music Theatre Now Competition

Winner of the 'Vocal/Choral Work of the Year' in the 2019 Art Music Awards

Finalist in the 2018 FBi SMAC Awards in the category 'Best on Stage'.

Winner of Best Sound Design in the Tokyo Festival World Competition 2019. 

"This is the pinnacle of their [Sydney Chamber Opera’s] daring provocations and an essential work for anybody wanting to experience the cutting edge of the operatic art form.”

AUDREY JOURNAL

★★★★

"...The Howling Girls coils around the listener like some impossibly ancient Siren song.”

ARCHIVAL VIDEO 

Recorded live at Carriageworks. Videography by Hospital Hill, audio recording by ABC Classic FM