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FLY – a chamber opera

25 August, 2019 - 1 September, 2019

Lyric presents

FLY – a chamber opera

Composed by Barry Conyngham
Libretto by Murray Copland

25 August – 1 September 2019

book online


25 August – 1 September 2019

opening night: Sunday 25 August
post-show Q&A: Thursday 29 August
duration: 90 minutes
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday 7:30pm
Sunday 5pm
ticket price: $30 – $55
bookings: 03 9662 9966

Lyric Opera brings Australian stories to the operatic stage with a boutique Melbourne production of Barry Conyngham’s opera Fly, based on the life of pioneering Australian explorer and aeronautical engineer Lawrence Hargrave.

Lawrence Hargrave, explorer, engineer, inventor and the man on the old twenty dollar note, led the world in the race to fly. This immersive, intimate performance revisits the life and achievements of this brilliant mind and the beautiful music of Barry Conyngham.

The production features an outstanding cast, chamber orchestra and installation-style design based on Hargrave’s own inventions.

*Grab a glass and hang around after the show on Thursday 29 August to be part of a conversation with Composer Barry Conyngham, Harpist Marshall Mcguire and conductor Pat Miller about the journey Fly and Australia music has flown from 1984 to today.


View the Fly program and synopsis online here.

Composor: Barry Conyngham
Libretto: Murray Copland
Music Direction: Pat Miller
Director: Lara Kerestes
Design: Zunica
Performers: Lisette Bolton, Shakira Dugan, Sam Robert-Smith, Cameron Sibly and Caroline Vercoe
Lighting design: Richard Vabre
Set design and construction: Tom Petty
Costume design: Nathan Burmeister


Barry Conyngham (Composer)
Barry Conyngham is an Australian composer and academic. He has over seventy published works and over thirty recordings featuring his compositions, and his works have been premiered or performed in Australia, Japan, North and South America, the United Kingdom and Europe. He is currently Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music at the University of Melbourne.

Pat Miller (Musical Director)
Pat Miller completed a Master of Music in Conducting at the University of Melbourne, studying under John Hopkins before making his professional debut leading the National Tour of Carmen for Oz Opera. Further training was through the Symphony Australia Conductor Development Program and was followed by an apprenticeship at the Opera de Lyon. Pat is currently Chief Conductor of the Australian International Opera Company and Artistic Director of Lyric Opera of Melbourne.  Pat is also committed to nurturing the next generation of musicians as Conductor for Melbourne Youth Orchestra’s Percy Grainger Youth Orchestra and as Music Director of Opera Scholars Australia.

Lara Kerestes (Director)
A directing graduate of VCA, Lara Kerestes is a director, dramaturg and teaching artist. Directing credits: Falling Petals, The Removalists, Il Signor Bruschino (Lyric Opera of Melbourne), Echo in our Walls (Outback Theatre for Young People), Fewer Emergencies, Sprout: A Radio Play, Tiger Country (Little Spoon Co.), Still, Pigeon (Bondi Feast Festival), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Importance of Being Ernest, The Gipsy Dancer, Wolf Lullaby, Cabaret and Bombshells. Lara has worked with such companies as  Playwriting Australia, Melbourne Theatre Co. and Malthouse Theatre, to name a few. Lara is a Green Room Award nominee for Best Direction in Opera.

View the full program and synopsis online here.


On the beach in Sydney, Olive and Meg Hargrave watch their father, Lawrence Hargrave fly one of his experimental kites.

Act 1: 1904 Sydney, Australia
At their home in Woollahra, Meg and her mother Margret eagerly examine the latest newspapers from London while Olive watches their brother Geoffrey sailing on the Harbour. Margret recalls the trials and tribulations of her husband’s career as Meg discovers the news of man’s first successful flight. Hargrave, recovering from fever, emerges to celebrate the successful end to Geoffrey’s race only to be confronted by his wife with the news from London.

​The doorbell announces the delivery of Mrs Hargrave’s new hat. Its featured Bird of Paradise feathers cause Hargrave to recall his expedition to New Guinea some thirty years previously. The fun and games soon devolve into a fierce confrontation between husband and wife.

Act 2, Scene 1: 1876 Fly River, New Guinea
Thirty years earlier  Hargrave is on board the steamer Neva as part of the Italian aristocrat Luigi D’Albertis’ expedition up the Fly River in New Guinea. D’Albertis, who is recovering from fever, questions Hargrave about his drawings and designs, before asserting his authority as leader of the expedition. Hargrave berates  D’Albertis for his destructive methods of exploration before the Italian in turn humiliates Hargrave for his humanitarian views. Hargrave vows to renounce all personal fame or fortune.

Act 2, Scene 2: 1915 Sydney
News has just reached Australia of the landings at Gallipoli. Mrs Hargrave explains to Meg that her father is now regarded as a traitor because the only museum willing to utilise his lifetime of aeronautical research was German. She shares her concern for her husband’s failing health but also the comfort brought by the assistance of  Geoffrey, now himself a promising engineer.

​The doorbell announces the arrival of a clergyman bringing news from Gallipoli. Hargrave returns to his workshop.

Ticket Prices:

Full: $55
Concession: $30
Early Bird: All tickets $30 for Tuesday 27 August (limited availability)


Pensioners/Full-time students/MEAA members




25 August, 2019
1 September, 2019
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fortyfivedownstairs theatre
45 Flinders Lane
Melbourne 3000, Victoria 3000 Australia
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03 9662 9966
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