Below are some excerpts of reviews from press outlets available on line (without paywall).
You can download the full program here.
"Speechless was overwhelming; an experience so forcefully immersive, it was impossible to ignore. And that’s exactly what Australian society needs to experience."
" inescapably captivating"
Read the full review by Laura Biemmi in Seesaw
"Its avant-garde style, heavy emotional impact, and difficult subject matter challenge audiences to not only observe some heavily topical sequences, but also interpret a great deal of meaning from a wordless vocal score that disrupts conventional expectations of words and melody. "
"Hope’s composition, the use of unusual stylistic devices, and the strong individual performances combine in Speechless to examine the trying existence of those living in detention across the world. The show succeeds in evoking great empathy amongst its audience. "
Read the full review by Tatum Stafford in Gutter Culture
"The 70-minute work challenges the very form of opera, or traditional ideas of how opera should look and sound"
Read the full article by Brigid Delaney in The Guardian
"an absorbing and visceral experience."
"his was an excellent opera-theatre experience, creating a nuanced commentary on an emotive issue without the need to preach to the audience. The visceral quality of the sound and the power of the emotions expressed through voice and instruments amply made a point about children in immigration detention. Speechless allows their plight to be heard. Words were superfluous."
Read the full review by Stephen Chinna in The Conversation
Other reviews in The Australian and The West Australian.
There are also previews in The Saturday Paper, ABC Radio National's 'THe Music Show', The Australian, Arts Hub and mentions in festival overviews in The Daily Review and Seesaw.
Tura has a wrap up summary here.
With some free time thanks to the end of year festivities, I have been able to start thinking about what Speechless will look like. I know how it will sound.
I have a wonderful lighting person, costume person and assistant director that I think will work well. A preliminary lighting design has come through - it's going to work great. Lots of vertical fluros coming from the roof. I can work with these. They can trace performer movement and cluster and lots of other things.
The brief for the production team, of which i consider myself very much a part, is 'installation' and 'performance art'. Not 'theatre' and 'opera'. For this reason I have chosen a young fashion grad rather than an established theatre costume designer. I also realised i have a very clear idea in my head about what I am after, and i started a Pinterst board to help try and communicate thoughts with the team. I have also been making drawings to try and communicate the ideas of what the costumes should do.
This is important because in this project, the costume is the set. It is with and through the costume, and related items, that the performers will interact. As the music is abstract - there are solos and duos and all the other frameworks of opera, the costumes will provide the work with the actions. They provide the tools for the performer interactions. They will accommodate as well as be the props - from small items such as papers, water bottles, mobile phones, clothing, maybe even snacks to odd shoes, strings, rubbish, walls of fabric, supports. They will also provide a way to link the soloists with their section of the choir.
My drawings are too bad to share here... but I finally feel like I am getting somewhere. The themes for the design come out of the music and support or relate to the 'theme' of the work itself: shelter, connection, serverance, joining, commonality, belonging/not belonging, memory, ephemera, identity, missing part, being trapped and of course, speechless.
A blog compiled by videographer Deborah May is now live here.
There are interviews with participants, excerpts of the showings, rehearsals as well as detailed information about the works synopsis, the crew and more.
“a major new operatic work... a personal statement and a highly successful musical innovation ”Chris Reid, RealTime, 23 August. Read the full article here. It includes and interview with Cat Hope.
Aussie Theatre 'Cadenza'
“(Hope’s) treatment of the delicate subject matter is profound, courageous, and inspiring.”
Vincent Plush, Limelight Magazine, 29 July 2017
“With Speechless, award-winning Australian composer Cat Hope has created an opera unlike any other.”
“To say I was captivated by the rationale and the execution of this workshop performance is an understatement. Befitting its name, it is the rare piece that elevates a viewer to a higher state of consciousness. I felt honoured to be witnessing the birth of something new and visceral. From the first notes of the overture, an ambience filled the room signaling at me to leave any logic at the door and listen with my heart.” Jennifer Trijo, Aussie Theatre, August 19, 2017.
“when all words fail, music speaks.”
Jennifer Trijo, Aussie Theatre, August 19, 2017. Read the full article here.
“A fascinating and engrossing experience, it should be taken up immediately by another production company or festival (or consortium of festivals, local and international) and developed... Speechless is already a remarkable achievement”
“A deeply moving, almost spiritual experience. It would have been impossible to have remained disconnected from the passion and intensity of this performance. I tried to conjure up sounds from my musical past that could provide signposts for the truly extraordinary tapestry of sonorities. Those huge, stochastic blocks of Iannis Xenakis, the gut-rending caterwauling of Diamanda Galas, the vocal gymnastics of Amanda Stewart, the long drones of Jon Rose and Graeme Leak and Indigenous music: all fused naturally and seamlessly for some 50 unbroken minutes.”
Vincent Plush, Limelight, 29 July 2017. Read the full article here.