World Premiere

Presented by Sydney Festival in association
with Ensemble Offspring

Music & Concept by Mary Finsterer
Libretto by Tom Wright

Sydney Chamber Opera continues their pioneering development of the new opera canon with Biographica by Australian composer Mary Finsterer with a libretto by Tom Wright. Biographica is an intricate dance of genius and madness, inspired by the life and demise of Renaissance polymath Gerolamo Cardano.

Cardano was a magnificent and eccentric mind – a prolific inventor and flawed father, solitary, aggressive, peculiar. A man who would listen to a guardian angel, swear by science, and dream of defeating time. He wrote the first texts on the mathematics of gambling, was a world-renowned surgeon, invented algebra, and was a pioneer of sign-language. Leading Australian actor Mitchell Butel stars in this fascinating role, with Finsterer’s music reflecting the piercing beauty of the Renaissance much like maniera painting; rich, florid, bold.

Malthouse’s resident director Janice Muller unites with SCO to develop this extraordinary interrogation of the mind and the soul.

Jack Symonds

Janice Muller

Set & Costume Design
Charles Davis

Lighting Design
Matt Cox

AV Design
James Brown

Creative Consultant
Matthew Lutton

Mitchell Butel
Jane Sheldon
Anna Fraser
Jessica O’Donoghue
Andrew Goodwin
Simon Lobelson

Ensemble Offspring

Miki Tsunoda
Anna McMichael
James Wannan
Freya Schack-Arnott
Kirsty McCahon
Lamorna Nightingale
Jason Noble
Christina Leonard
Zubin Kanga
Rowan Phemister
Claire Edwardes

Anna Fraser appears courtesy of the Song Company



Bay 20, 245 Wilson St, Eveleigh


85 minutes

Press Reviews

The Australian
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“Inventive, engaging, stimulating and moving, Biographica is an outstanding new opera. It deserves regular performances as well as a permanent place in the repertory.”
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“A triumphant level of achievement is what Sydney has come to routinely expect from the SCO; this premiere of a much-anticipated work… shows they are now a significant national cultural asset.”
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“a dark, vividly realised portrayal of a fascinatingly intelligent yet flawed character”

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General Information

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.