Pecan Summer

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Pecan Summer is an opera written and composed by the indigenous Australian singer Deborah Cheetham, who also sang in every season. It was orchestrated by Jessica Wells.[1] It is the first opera written by an indigenous Australian and involving an indigenous cast. It is based on the February 1939 Cummeragunja walk-off,[2] in which Cheetham's grandparents were involved.

Pecan Summer was commissioned for the Olympic Arts Festival held in association with the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.[3]

The libretto was written by Deborah Cheetham during a short stay in Lucca, Italy. The opera had its official world premiere at the WestSide Performing Arts Centre, Mooroopna, Victoria, on 8 October 2010, where it was presented by the Short Black Opera Company[2] and the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra under David Kram.[1] It had an unofficial preview performance in Melbourne in July 2010.[4]

With his agreement, Cheetham used a recording of then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's February 2008 parliamentary apology to the "Stolen Generations" as part of the work.[4]

The timeline of the opera moves from the Dreamtime; to July 2006, on the banks of the Yarra River near Federation Square in Melbourne; to 1939, on the banks of the Dhungala (Murray River) near the Cummeragunja Mission; to several months later in winter 1939; to Shepparton at an unspecified time; to Federation Square on 13 February 2008, the day of Kevin Rudd's apology.[1]

The world premiere performance was broadcast by ABC Classic FM on 28 November 2010.[1] Short Black Opera company has produced four seasons of Pecan Summer: Mooroopna 2010; Melbourne 2011; Perth 2012; Adelaide 2014;[citation needed] Sydney 2016. The 2016 season was performed in the Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House[5] and was recorded by National Indigenous Television and ABC Classic FM.[6]


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