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Insatiable (chamber opera) (chamber opera)

by David Chesworth and David Chesworth (1985)

Audio Sample

Performance by Jacqui Rutten, Di Emery, Lloyd Fleming, John Concannon, David Chesworth from the CD Wicked voice

Wicked voice

Out of Print

This item is out-of-print. We regret that it cannot be purchased from the Australian Music Centre.


Wicked voice : songs, arias and humorous refrains / David Chesworth

Library shelf no. CD 756 [Available for loan]

Work Overview

Using Roland Barthes’ A Lovers Discourse and Schoenberg’s opera Erwartung as references, Insatiable is a stylised, abstracted musical drama presenting ideas about the nature of ‘performance’: What does it mean to ‘perform’? Who is giving the performance? What is the audience's position in all of this?

 Four people arrive at an old theatre for an audition and each must wait their turn to perform. As they wait, the characters gradually reveal - through recitatives and arias - more about the roles they are playing and speculate on their future lives.

The music is derived from four melodic themes that recur throughout.  Stated simply at the beginning, each becomes more complex as the piece progresses.  They are: an anonymous piece of Medieval Organum, a simplified version of the cantus firmus from Guillaume Dufay's 14th century mass Se la face ay pale, an operatic melody based on the notes of the major triad and a sequential chord progression similar to that used in the title music of the TV show, Days Of Our Lives.

Music plays a crucial role in the narrative. It becomes thematically linked to the unfolding of the story. A musical tradition, rather than a literary tradition providing the framework of the story.

The use of non-natural symphonic sounds is an essential element in the work. The music was composed using a Roland JX3P analogue synthesizer with additional timpani, harp and tubular bells.

After several live performances in Melbourne and Sydney, it was subsequently recorded by the ABC and filmed as a television opera in 1986.


Work Details

Year: 1985

Duration: 20 min.

First performance: 25 Mar 86. Performance Space, Sydney

Text: Lovers Discourse Roland Barthes.

Performances of this work

25 Mar 86: Performance Space, Sydney

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