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West Australian Opera’s dream is to present opera that moves and enchants you through stories that are relevant and diverse. In a celebration of language, music and culture, West Australian Opera is proud to announce the Wesfarmers Arts commission of Koolbardi wer Wardong. This will be a new work to be performed in Noongar language based on the traditional story of the koolbardi (magpie) and the wardong (crow), about two birds who gave in to jealousy and competition, lost their pure white feathers and became the birds we see today.

Carolyn Chard AM, Executive Director, West Australian Opera, applauded the foresight of Wesfarmers Arts in enabling the commissioning of a new work under the challenges of COVID19 restrictions and said “Although the theatres are still dark we have the opportunity to nurture creative development and this commission provides an opportunity to invest in artists and create new Australian work. I am grateful to our Principal Partner, Wesfarmers Arts, for supporting this commission. The power of the arts has been abundantly evident during these months of isolation and social distancing.”

Rob Scott, Managing Director, Wesfarmers, said “This year, our Wesfarmers Arts partners have had to cancel forthcoming seasons, close their doors to the public and draw upon often limited reserves, to keep paying the staff and artists who are critical to their future. Through the crisis, we have stood alongside our arts partners, to help them remain viable, and we are delighted to support the development of this inspirational commission, with its focus on celebrating the indigenous culture of this place, on Noongar Country. The commission allows West Australian Opera to keep innovating and keeps our state’s artists creating new work. Ultimately, it’s initiatives like this that will help our arts sector re-emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, resilient and re-invigorated with new opportunities for growth and community engagement – which we will all be able to enjoy.”

Chris van Tuinen, Music Director, West Australian Opera said “There is little existing opera repertoire that celebrates Western Australian stories and little or no existing opera repertoire in First Nations Languages based on Aboriginal stories. WAO believes in sharing stories that are relevant and also uniquely speak to this land, time and place. We want to cultivate a love of opera in a younger generation and provide access for children from all backgrounds to experience the power of opera with stories that will resonate for them.”

Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse said “We were excited to start work and to partner with West Australian Opera on this project, dreaming up a production that celebrates strong cultural elements of language, song and narrative. We are especially keen to work with young people on this project, as this has great potential to be an important legacy work. Opera is a powerful way to do this, as many traditional stories from other cultures have been told and passed on for generations. We are will present a story that is 3000 generations old, is uniquely West Australian, and will be passed on for many generations to come.”

Gina and Guy will commence the development phase that will include specialised workshops and classes alongside the creation of musical scores and planning pathways for the integration of Noongar Language training for involved artists as well as an Education arm, that will engage students of diverse ages and backgrounds.