When she came to Australia at the age of 17, she was sacked from
her first job, in a milk bar, after four shifts. Now she is
enjoying worldwide acclaim for contemporary music that can be
complex and academic - and fun. KELLY BURKE reports
FULL-FRONTAL nudity, ritualised body shaving, violence, blasphemy
and bad language. Despite the confronting subject matter, Elena
Kats-Chernin emerged last week triumphant from delving into that
most elite of musical art forms, opera.
Matricide has just completed its premiere season by the
Victorian- based company Chamber Made Opera, with the adjectives
"marvellous", "dangerous", "absorbing" and "challenging"
featuring prominently in Melbourne reviews.
Kats-Chernin is not a woman familiar with feigned emotions. She
runs on an inexhaustible supply of spontaneous energy, informed
by an uncommon intellect expressing itself through rapid-fire
conversation. The words tumble over each other; the ideas come in
unflagging succession. That the critics have embraced her latest
work, a musical treatment of the true story of two lovestruck
teenage girls who bludgeoned to death the mother who sought to
separate them (the same synopsis which, in the 1995 film Heavenly
Creatures, brought the New Zealand director Peter Jackson and
English actor Kate Winslet international recognition), is an
obvious source of pleasure to her, and the composer is only now