Voss (opera)

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For other uses, see Voss (disambiguation).

Voss is an opera by Australian composer Richard Meale with libretto by David Malouf. It is an adaptation of Patrick White's novel of the same name. The opera was commissioned by The Australian Opera, and premiered at the Adelaide Festival in 1986.

In 2011, Voss was added to the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia's Sounds of Australia registry.[1]


In 1977, impresario and administrator Peter Hemmings, general manager of the Australian Opera (as Opera Australia was then known), commissioned Meale to write an opera based on Voss, Patrick White's 1957 novel.[2]

Work in progress[edit]

White's novel was predominantly set in Queensland, and appropriately, Meale's librettist for the opera was Queensland writer, poet and playwright David Malouf.[3] Malouf completed the libretto in 1978,[4] but Voss would not be performed until 1986.


A preview[edit]

12 minutes of Voss – the "Garden Scene" – was a feature of the 1982 Adelaide Festival[5]


The Australian Opera conducted by Stuart Challender premiered Voss, directed by Jim Sharman[6] on 1 March 1986 at the Adelaide Festival Theatre.[7]

Later performances[edit]

Voss also enjoyed a successful run at the Sydney Opera House.[8]


The Australian Opera's production was recorded by the ABC in 1986 and released internationally on the Philips label in 1987.[9] The recording received the ARIA Award for Best Classical Album in 1988.


Role Voice type
Johann Ulrich Voss baritone
Frank le Mesurier tenor
Palfreyman baritone
Harry Robarts tenor
Judd baritone
Mrs Judd mezzo-soprano
Mr Bonner bass
Mrs Bonner mezzo-soprano
Belle Bonner soprano
Laura Trevelyan soprano
Rose Portion mezzo-soprano
Lieutenant Tom Radclyffe tenor
Mr Topp tenor
Mercy soprano
A reporter tenor



  1. ^ National Film and Sound Archive: 'Voss' on the Sounds of Australia registry
  2. ^ "Obituary: Peter Hemmings". http://bnetau.com.au/ BNET Australia. Retrieved 2008-08-06.  External link in |publisher= (help)[dead link]
  3. ^ "David Malouf". British Council Literature. British Council. Retrieved 2016-01-14. 
  4. ^ "David Malouf". http://www.middlemiss.org middlemiss.org. Retrieved 2008-08-06.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  5. ^ Vincent Plush & Robyn Holmes. "THE STORY OF VOSS". National Film and Sound Archive. Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  6. ^ Ford, Andrew (2009-05-16). "Jim Sharman director of stage and screen". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2009-06-27. 
  7. ^ "eventname Voss". http://www.ausstage.edu.au/ ausstage.edu.au, Gateway to the Australian Performing Arts. Retrieved 2008-08-06.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  8. ^ "WHAT'S DOING IN SYDNEY". http://www.nytimes.com/ The New York Times. 1986-05-25. Retrieved 2008-08-08.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  9. ^ "ABC Classic FM - Sunday Opera - Richard Meale's 'Voss'". ABC Classic FM. Retrieved 2016-06-10. 
  10. ^ "At The Opera – Voss". www.abc.net.au Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2008-08-13. Retrieved 2009-02-05. 

External links[edit]