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Tim Finn's Ihitai 'Avei'a (Star Navigator) to broadcast on ABC Classic

West Australian Opera is proud to announce that the work commissioned from Tim Finn OBE called Ihitai 'Avei'a (Star Navigator) will be broadcast on ABC Classic’s Sunday Opera this Sunday 26 November 2023.

Based on the true story of Tupaia, a Tahitian star navigator who sailed with James Cook on the Endeavour, this haunting work explores the meeting in 1770 of two master mariners, Tupaia and Cook.

Each is from a vastly different place and culture. As they journey together the understanding they develop highlights both their differences and shared terror, love of the sea and the worlds around them.

Originally commissioned by West Australian Opera, New Zealand Opera and Victorian Opera, Ihitai 'Avei'a (Star Navigator) was due to be performed as part of West Australian Opera’s 2020 and subsequent 2021 seasons though performances were cancelled due to COVID-19 lockdowns and border closures.

Following those cancelled performances, West Australian Opera pivoted the project to be a recording project and worked closely with ABC Classic, West Australian Symphony Orchestra and Tim Finn on the recording. The recording includes Teddy Tahu Rhodes as James Cook and Emmanuel Fonoti-Fuimaono as Tupaia with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, WASO Chorus and Tim Finn on piano and nylon guitar.

West Australian Opera Artistic Director and conductor Chris van Tuinen said: "Given the huge collective effort required to produce new opera (along with the prodigious talents of composers and librettist), it's a great moment to see recordings like this come to life. Especially since it tells a story from our part of the world, and like other great art, helps us understand where we've come from and where we might go."

West Australian Opera Executive Director Carolyn Chard AM said: “Tim Finn and I met several years ago in a theatre foyer in Brisbane and now, after the many workshops, creative development and a world pandemic, it's wonderful that Tim’s Ihitai 'Avei'a (Star Navigator) will be heard. Co-commissioning, developing and completing new work is a massive undertaking which relies on many collaborators and supporters. We are grateful for all those who have touched this project and I particularly thank the state government of Western Australia and Principal Partner Wesfarmers Arts for their support of this project and our colleagues at WASO and ABC.”

Hear Ihitai 'Avei'a (Star Navigator) on Sunday 26 November on ABC Classic’s Sunday Opera, or via the ABC website or Listen app following its broadcast.