The Venetian Twins (musical)

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The Venetian Twins
Music Terence Clarke
Lyrics Nick Enright
Book Nick Enright
Basis I due gemelli veneziani by Carlo Goldoni
Productions Sydney 1979
Sydney 1981
Brisbane 1990
Newcastle 1996
Adelaide 1996
Brisbane 2004

The Venetian Twins is an Australian two-act musical comedy. It was translated and adapted from a commedia dell'arte play - I due gemelli veneziani by Carlo Goldoni - and the lyrics were written by Nick Enright; the music was composed and arranged by Terence Clarke.

It premiered on 26 October 1979 in the Drama Theatre of the Sydney Opera House.[1] The Nimrod Theatre Company production was directed by John Bell for the inaugural season of the Sydney Theatre Company, and starred Drew Forsythe as the twins; the cast included the coloratura soprano Jennifer McGregor, Tony Sheldon, and Tony Taylor (for all four of whom their roles were specifically written), and Jon Ewing as Pancrazio, the villain.

The work has been professionally produced in every capital city - three times in Sydney, twice in Brisbane - and has twice toured. The 1981 Sydney remount by Nimrod Theatre[2] at the York Theatre, Seymour Centre featuring most of the original cast toured to Canberra, Adelaide and Melbourne. The 1990 Brisbane production by the Royal Queensland Theatre Company, for which the work was substantially revised, also played seasons in Sydney and Melbourne. Other notable productions include the State Theatre Company of South Australia featuring Paul Blackwell (Adelaide 1996 and Melbourne)[3] and Queensland Theatre Company featuring Mitchell Butel (Brisbane 2004) who won a Helpmann Award for his portrayal.[4] It is frequently produced by schools and amateur theatre groups.

There were three women and seven men in the original cast; for the revival by Nimrod at the Seymour Centre in 1981, this was revised to nine; there is some doubling of roles. The five-player instrumentation is: flute doubling guitar; clarinet; trombone; percussion, including tubular bells; and piano.

The script was published by Currency Press, Sydney, in 1996, and the vocal score by Fitzroy Press some time later. The work has been a set text for the NSW Higher School Certificate English and Drama courses. Larrikin Records released a cast recording of the 1981 production.

The manuscript of the libretto and lyrics, and related papers, are held by the Australian Defence Force Academy.[5]


  • John Bell: The Time of My Life by John Bell, 2003, Allen & Unwin, p. 138. ISBN 1-74114-134-6