Opera takes centre stage with Parrwang Lifts The Sky

Get the latest from Beat


Opera takes centre stage with Parrwang Lifts The Sky

Parrwang Lifts the Sky
Words by Ben Lamb

Arts Centre Melbourne’s Playhouse housed babies, toddlers, opera aficionados, and curious music fans, all unaware how the next 50 minutes of Parrwang Lifts The Sky were going to play out.

The show is an opera based on a traditional Wadawurrung story, written by Yorta Yorta woman Deborah Cheetham Fraillon.

Explore Melbourne’s latest arts and stage news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

The show opened with the talented soprano Rebecca Rashleigh, playing Parrwang, a bird, who introduced both the story plus Tjatjarrang and Koki, a human sibling pair played by Jess Hitchcock and Michael Petruccelli respectively.

After climbing a tree and finding Parrwang, the siblings are trying to find the light. From the first note the pair uttered, they cemented themselves as two gifted opera singers. This opening scene led to Mr and Mrs Waa, another pair that worked well off one another, and gave a new flavour to the show.

A clear highlight came with a character played by the show’s composer and librettist, Deborah Cheetham Fraillion. Her performance was arguably one of the best to hit the Arts Centre stage in years. From the toddlers to grandparents, you could feel each and every audience member connect to her.

Cheetham’s character Gorngany and Parrwang travelled to the council of birds to help bring the light back. This allowed Adrian Tamburini’s Bunjil to take centre stage, his voice effortlessly filling the room, and being the perfect element for the succeeding group numbers and big finish to the show.

Like all good children’s stories should, Parrwang Lifts The Sky finished with a happy ending, the sun rose, and the characters found their way.

Book tickets here.