Watershed: The Death Of Gay Academic Dr Duncan

Watershed: The Death Of Gay Academic Dr Duncan
Image: Supplied

Opera Australia has announced a thrilling new operatic work playing four performances only at the Sydney Opera House. The new Australian performance, Watershed, will make its Sydney debut after receiving a number of five-star reviews and emotional standing ovations at each sold-out performance at the 2022 Adelaide Festival. 

Directed by Neil Armfield with conductor Brett Weymark, and written by composer Joseph Twist, playwright Alana Valentine and legendary novelist Christos Tsiolkas, the enchanting performance follows the infamous drowning of Dr George Ian Ogilvie Duncan that occurred half a century ago. 

The Australian University lecturer was a victim of anti-gay violence after being thrown into the Torrens River by a group of men.

Duncan’s story triggered homosexual law reform

This tragic but significant event led to lasting change in Australia and was followed by city-wide outrage, a national scandal, an alleged police cover-up and a Scotland Yard investigation. 

Most importantly, Dr Duncan’s death prompted landmark law reform which led to South Australia’s decriminalisation of homosexuality, ahead of the rest of the country. 

Watershed features powerful choral music, solo voices and dance, fused with transcripts, press clippings and monologues. The entire performance pays tribute to the academic, and the captivating musical performance honours both the man himself and the impact his untimely and unfortunate death had on queer history.

Image Supplied by Opera Australia

Opera Australia’s Sydney Winter Season 2024

Watershed is part of Opera Australia’s new 2024 season that has been creatively curated by Artistic Director Jo Davies. The upcoming winter season comprises new Australian works with extraordinary creative teams and casts, with Watershed being one of the highlight performances. 

Opera Australia CEO Fiona Allan has stated that the company’s new direction is “more collaborative [and] more committed to diversity and developing and showcasing the best Australian talent, all of which is well demonstrated in Jo’s first season as Artistic Director”.

Neil Armfield’s production of Watershed is as deeply felt and thrillingly physical as the previous award-winning shows. Do not miss out on viewing some of the best creative talents on stage from Opera Australia and experiencing the emotional journey this work can take you on. 

Click here for tickets and view the Watershed trailer below: 

Watch the interview with Alana Valentine and Christos Tsiolkas:

14–16 June 2024

Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House

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