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The Bushranger's Lover : opera in two acts

by John Honey and Don Kay (2012)

Bushranger's Lover


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The Bushranger's Lover : opera in two acts / by Don Kay ; libretto by John Honey.

Library shelf no. 782.1/KAY 1 [Available for loan]

Work Details

Year: 2012

Instrumentation: 2 sopranos, 2 baritones, SATB choir, flute, oboe, clarinet in B flat, bassoon, horn in F, trumpet in B flat, trombone, piano, percussion (1 player), strings.

Duration: 105 min.

Dedication note: "To Maria & Frances"

First performance: by Hobart Chamber Orchestra, Hobart Wind Symphony, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra Chorus, Simon Reade, Deborah Cheetham Fraillon, Michael Lampard, Jassy Husk, Phillip Joughin at The Bushranger's Lover (Hobart City Hall) on 29 Nov 2014

Revised 2015


Resonate article: Collaborating with Don Kay by John Honey


Bushranger's lover

Performances of this work

29 Nov 2014: at The Bushranger's Lover (Hobart City Hall). Featuring Phillip Joughin, Michael Lampard, Jassy Husk, Hobart Chamber Orchestra, Hobart Wind Symphony, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra Chorus, Simon Reade, Deborah Cheetham Fraillon.

4 Oct 2013: at Don Kay 80th Birthday Concert (Conservatorium Recital Hall (Hobart)). Featuring Michael Lampard, Jane Edwards.

User reviews

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Review World Premiere Concert Performance - Hobart City Hall - Saturday 29 November 2014

Posted by Peter Donnelly on 3 December, 2014

The Bushranger’s Lover

Hobart City Hall


Hobart society was brutal and corrupt in the wake of British settlement at the start of the 19th century. This true story of bushranger Michael Howe and his lover Black Mary is one of desperation, betrayal and dashed hopes. John Honey’s libretto is artfully spare and pared back, as is Don Kay’s score – not a note is wasted. The fast paced narrative, akin to a gothic horror movie, moves ever more darkly towards the dénouement. In a staged production, I imagine moody lighting effects to stress the grimness of the story. Against this, the underlying lyricism of Don Kay’s orchestral score, contrasting the angular vocals, would enable those moments of passion and light between the protagonists Howe, Mary and Maria Lord to shine like beacons. The principals were all strongly cast with distinguished soprano Deborah Cheetham AO, a Yorta Yorta woman, proud and dignified as Black Mary.  Michael Lampard was consistently strong voiced, with clear diction, as Michael Howe, and Jassy Husk fresh-voiced, characterful and dangerous as the wily Maria Lord. Phillip Joughin ably handled the roles of both bushranger John Whitehead and Governor Sorell. June Tyzack’s TSO Chorus sang with fervour with principals taking on the other minor roles. Simon Reade did a remarkable job in conducting these performers, the combined Hobart Chamber Orchestra and Hobart Wind Symphony, with total assurance and conviction – and from memory!



Peter Donnelly