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Creative collision of opera and science

Mary Finsterer

Philanthropy at the University of Tasmania makes a difference in many ways, and a very creative example of this support can be seen in the work of one of Australia’s finest composers, Professor Mary Finsterer, who is currently working on a major opera called 'Antarctica'.

Antarctica is an opera with a difference. Early in July a two-day symposium of numerous Australian researchers from music, humanities, cultural studies and science was held to inform its development. The symposium, called Opera Antarctica Symposium: First Light, was organised by Professor Finsterer and Associate Professor Guy Williams, an observational polar oceanographer with the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies.

Discussions at the two-day symposium will help inform the opera, which is being created by Professor Finsterer and librettist Tom Wright. The symposium investigated not only how scientific findings can be communicated through artistic expression, but also music’s uniquely affective power to reveal science to itself in unexpected forms. Antarctica will explore historic, mythic and scientific beliefs and narratives revolving around the southern continent.

The Executive Dean of the College of Arts, Law and Education, Professor Kate Darian-Smith, who officially opened Opera Antarctica Symposium: First Light, said that mutually beneficial collaborations between the arts and sciences were being pursued more often and with greater creativity than ever before at the University of Tasmania, as it strives to be a truly place-based organisation.

Leading Dutch chamber orchestra Asko | Schönberg has commissioned the opera in partnership with the University of Tasmania and will co-produce Antarctica with the acclaimed resident ensemble company of Carriageworks, the Sydney Chamber Opera, for several seasons in major Australian festivals and abroad.  

Professor Finsterer is a Creative Fellow with the College of Arts, Law and Education and a University Associate with the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies and the Conservatorium of Music. Her work has generated significant philanthropic support enabled through the University of Tasmania's Advancement Office.

Published on: 08 Jul 2019 9:25am