notes from underground

Opera in seven scenes by Jack Symonds
Libretto by Pierce Wilcox
(after the Dostoyevsky novella)

Dostoevsky’s “Notes from Underground” is daring and wild. Set in colourful, torturous St Petersburg, it is a pessimistic indictment of the weaknesses of human will, containing one of the most extraordinary central characters in nineteenth century literature. Spiritually destitute, this man rages manically about himself, and then goes on to flesh out his soliloquy with anecdotes about the events ‘aboveground’ leading to his eventual retreat ‘underground’ as he rejects society and human relationships.

Acclaimed director Netta Yashchin stages a bold new operatic adaptation of “Notes from Underground” by Jack Symonds, to a libretto by Pierce Wilcox, for Sydney Chamber Opera. This adaptation finds the links between the underground tirade and the aboveground narrative and draws them simultaneously together. We can’t read the novel’s two halves at once, but music can fold time; it can fuse it, freeze it. Through music we can hear the two halves together, and so the opera is born: past and present in confrontation.

Jack Symonds

Netta Yashchin

Lighting Design

Charles Coy

Dymphna Carew

Mitchell Riley
Morgan Pearse
Anna Yun
Nicole Thomson
Anthony Hunt
Anthony Taufa
Matthew Hopkins
Daniel Nemes
David Hansen



Cell Block Theatre
Forbes St, Darlinghurst


90 minutes

Press Reviews

The Sydney Morning Herald
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“From every point of view – artistic, musical, theatrical and logistical – this was an ambitious undertaking, impressively realised…Gripping and earthy…it was an auspicious launch”
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“A brave and triumphant debut for Sydney Chamber Opera.”

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We acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation as the traditional custodians of the land on which we work and perform. We honour their elders both past and present, and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.