A Blush Opera production supported by New Music Network Mini Series and Festival of Voices 2015 Tasmanian Cabaret Festival

An original cabaret opera by Paul Smith, the absurdist plot follows the curious lunch of two women who are interrupted by an unexpected visitor. The mystery that follows reveals much about the ladies’ complex relationship and may have fatal consequences for one of them.

‘Fancy Me Dead’ is  macabre comedy of operatic proportions for two voices, two hands and two dead legs. Meet Dora and Cora, two doyennes of design and business partners in a couture, upholstery empire. Lately business has not been so successful due to the mistakes of their Spanish intern Manuel. The two ladies meet to discuss their failing business over lunch when an unexpected visitor drops in. Witness two thrilling voices as they hurl accusations and threats at each other in a operatic murder mystery laced with intrigue, poison, fabric swatches, sandwiches..... and a very dubious pot of tea.

Duration 60 min (no interval)

Age M15+

Genre cabaret opera

Instrumentation 2 voices + piano

Alternative Instrumentation: 2 voices + chamber ensemble (clarinet/bassoon/flute/french horn/violin/viola/cello)

Highlights

I had to stop myself from laughing out loud because I didn’t want to miss the next line.
— audience feedback from Festival of Voices 2015

Meet the Creatives

  Paul Smith    Co-Artistic Director // Composer   Paul is a lecturer in music at the University of New England where he teaches composition and music theory. He holds a Doctorate of Creative Arts from Western Sydney University where his research focused on music's connection with visual art forms.   His works for theatre include the chamber opera "Fancy Me Dead", first performed as part if the New Music Network Mini Series in 2015, and "The Spider Maiden and the Runaway Plum Blossom", commissioned by Chamber.Sounds and premiered in Singapore in 2016. He also composed and performed a piano score for a collaborative theatre work, "Frankenstein", at The Q in Penrith in October, 2016. He is currently composing a new work in development -  Chop Chef: The Opera  - with librettist Julie Koh for the The Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre Southlands Breakthrough Award 2017.  Paul's instrumental compositions include numerous pieces for keyboard. He has collaborated regularly with Italian pianist, Antonietta Lofreddo who has performed his work in Australia and Italy. She has released his pieces, "Kawaii Suite", "Iceberg Variations", and "Holding Masks" on three albums with Wirripang. "'Holding Masks" was performed at the Associazione Carducci in Como in May 2017. Other commissions include "The Death of Baldr" for sextet by the Sirius Chamber Ensemble.   His published research explores music and Japanese visual culture and can be found in the volumes "Manga-Vision" (2016, Monash University Press) and "Music's Immanent Future" (2016, Ashgate Publishing). 

Paul Smith

Co-Artistic Director // Composer

Paul is a lecturer in music at the University of New England where he teaches composition and music theory. He holds a Doctorate of Creative Arts from Western Sydney University where his research focused on music's connection with visual art forms. 

His works for theatre include the chamber opera "Fancy Me Dead", first performed as part if the New Music Network Mini Series in 2015, and "The Spider Maiden and the Runaway Plum Blossom", commissioned by Chamber.Sounds and premiered in Singapore in 2016. He also composed and performed a piano score for a collaborative theatre work, "Frankenstein", at The Q in Penrith in October, 2016. He is currently composing a new work in development - Chop Chef: The Opera - with librettist Julie Koh for the The Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre Southlands Breakthrough Award 2017.

Paul's instrumental compositions include numerous pieces for keyboard. He has collaborated regularly with Italian pianist, Antonietta Lofreddo who has performed his work in Australia and Italy. She has released his pieces, "Kawaii Suite", "Iceberg Variations", and "Holding Masks" on three albums with Wirripang. "'Holding Masks" was performed at the Associazione Carducci in Como in May 2017. Other commissions include "The Death of Baldr" for sextet by the Sirius Chamber Ensemble. 

His published research explores music and Japanese visual culture and can be found in the volumes "Manga-Vision" (2016, Monash University Press) and "Music's Immanent Future" (2016, Ashgate Publishing). 

  Jermaine Chau    Co-Artistic Director // Mezzo soprano   Jermaine is a founding member of Blush Opera and a current Co-Artistic Director. As part of Blush Opera’s commitment to presenting original works by new composers, she has performed Paul Smith composition ‘Fancy Me Dead’ at The Hayes Theatre as part of the New Music Network Mini Series.  in 2017 Jermaine is loving having the role of Kitty written for her in Blush Opera's latest creation  Chop Chef: The Opera  by Smith & Koh.  Jermaine recently trained at the IFAC New Zealand Singing School 2017 where she worked with international coaches. A graduate of the Lisa Gasteen National Opera Summer School in Brisbane (2014), she studied opera at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (2013-2014) where she took on the role as a sassy aunt Fidalma in Cimarosa’s comic opera Il Segreto Matrimonio. She took the lead role in Menotti’s Old Maid and the Thief and has performed as Cecilia in Mark Adamo’s Little Women.  2016 was thrilling year as Jermaine made her debut at the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra Gala; performed as Lady Bertram in Operantics’ production of Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park and will again join Operantics and the Penrith Symphony Orchestra in their production of La Sonnambula as Teresa. She revelled in the gluttonous role of Suor Dolcina in Opera Projects Sydney’s Suor Angelica; La Frugola in Puccini's Il Tabarro with Constantine Costi & Luke Spicer and in November, Jermaine was part of the cast of Opera Australia’s The Eighth Wonder in the role of Madame Magda performing on the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House.  In 2017 she performed in Carmen as part of Opera Australia's production on Sydney Harbour.

Jermaine Chau

Co-Artistic Director // Mezzo soprano

Jermaine is a founding member of Blush Opera and a current Co-Artistic Director. As part of Blush Opera’s commitment to presenting original works by new composers, she has performed Paul Smith composition ‘Fancy Me Dead’ at The Hayes Theatre as part of the New Music Network Mini Series.  in 2017 Jermaine is loving having the role of Kitty written for her in Blush Opera's latest creation Chop Chef: The Opera by Smith & Koh.

Jermaine recently trained at the IFAC New Zealand Singing School 2017 where she worked with international coaches. A graduate of the Lisa Gasteen National Opera Summer School in Brisbane (2014), she studied opera at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (2013-2014) where she took on the role as a sassy aunt Fidalma in Cimarosa’s comic opera Il Segreto Matrimonio. She took the lead role in Menotti’s Old Maid and the Thief and has performed as Cecilia in Mark Adamo’s Little Women.

2016 was thrilling year as Jermaine made her debut at the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra Gala; performed as Lady Bertram in Operantics’ production of Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park and will again join Operantics and the Penrith Symphony Orchestra in their production of La Sonnambula as Teresa. She revelled in the gluttonous role of Suor Dolcina in Opera Projects Sydney’s Suor Angelica; La Frugola in Puccini's Il Tabarro with Constantine Costi & Luke Spicer and in November, Jermaine was part of the cast of Opera Australia’s The Eighth Wonder in the role of Madame Magda performing on the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House.  In 2017 she performed in Carmen as part of Opera Australia's production on Sydney Harbour.

  Taryn Srhoj     Soprano   Taryn studied at The University of Auckland School of Music, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Music majoring in Voice in 2008. Her other musicianship skills include attaining AmusA in piano and being accepted into the piano programme at the Aspen Music Festival and Summer school, USA. Currently based in Sydney, Taryn has recently performed as a soloist in the Willoughby Symphony Grand Opera Gala and was a recipient of the Q Lab Artists in Residence Programme at the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre. In 2015 Taryn performed the role of Musetta in  La Boheme  with the Western Sydney Opera Company, Michaela in  Carmen  with Symphony Central Coast, Marie Antoinette for Blush Opera’s production  Ladies Who Brunch  in the Adelaide Fringe Festival and the role of Cora in the world premiere and subsequent tour of  Fancy Me Dead  by Australian composer Dr Paul Smith. Taryn has often performed with Sirius Chamber Ensemble, most notably the Alan Holley song cycle   Borneo Songs   and Berg’s   Sieben Fruhe Lieder   .  Taryn was a Young Artist with Pacific Opera in both 2011 and 2012 during which she performed the role of Bettina in  The Deluded Bridegroom  and also Second Spirit in Mozart’s  The Magic Flute.  As a Pacific Opera Young Artist she also performed as a soloist in the Pacific Opera Gala, Opera By The Lake, Opera Unlaced and covered all three roles in the premiere of new Australian work  Golden Summers  by James Long.  Taryn has had the privilege of premiering many new works. A highlight was performing and recording a new Soprano song cycle by Dr Paul Smith and singing in Art/Opera collaboration  Project Rise; Singing The Virtual  (Dr Andrew Burrell/Dr Paul Smith).

Taryn Srhoj 

Soprano

Taryn studied at The University of Auckland School of Music, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Music majoring in Voice in 2008. Her other musicianship skills include attaining AmusA in piano and being accepted into the piano programme at the Aspen Music Festival and Summer school, USA. Currently based in Sydney, Taryn has recently performed as a soloist in the Willoughby Symphony Grand Opera Gala and was a recipient of the Q Lab Artists in Residence Programme at the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre. In 2015 Taryn performed the role of Musetta in La Boheme with the Western Sydney Opera Company, Michaela in Carmen with Symphony Central Coast, Marie Antoinette for Blush Opera’s production Ladies Who Brunch in the Adelaide Fringe Festival and the role of Cora in the world premiere and subsequent tour of Fancy Me Dead by Australian composer Dr Paul Smith. Taryn has often performed with Sirius Chamber Ensemble, most notably the Alan Holley song cycle Borneo Songs and Berg’s Sieben Fruhe Lieder .

Taryn was a Young Artist with Pacific Opera in both 2011 and 2012 during which she performed the role of Bettina in The Deluded Bridegroom and also Second Spirit in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. As a Pacific Opera Young Artist she also performed as a soloist in the Pacific Opera Gala, Opera By The Lake, Opera Unlaced and covered all three roles in the premiere of new Australian work Golden Summers by James Long.

Taryn has had the privilege of premiering many new works. A highlight was performing and recording a new Soprano song cycle by Dr Paul Smith and singing in Art/Opera collaboration Project Rise; Singing The Virtual (Dr Andrew Burrell/Dr Paul Smith).

  Benjamin Burton      Pianist   Benjamin Burton is a talented young pianist with a passion for accompanying vocal and instrumental performances. In 2014, Ben did an internship with Opera Australia, and travelled on full scholarship to Munich, Germany as repetiteur for the Bel Canto Summer Program. In his role as accompanist, Ben has performed all over the country, and in 2016 will be continuing to perform with Voci Stupende, be an official accompanist for the Sydney and Shoalhaven Eisteddfods, and for the third time be pianist-in-residence for the 2016 Moorambilla Voices Festival. 2016 also sees Ben giving recitals with Susannah Lawergren, Hannah Fraser and Andrew O’Connor of The Song Company, and performing as first pianist in Rossini’s  Petite Messe Solennelle .  Ben studied Piano Performance with an accompaniment focus at the Sydney Conservatorium with David Miller and Bernadette Harvey, and has also studied with David Howie and Stephen Mould. In 2012 and 2013 he won won the Mollie Neale award for highest marks in accompaniment he has also participated in masterclasses with Yvonne Kenny, Glenn Winslade, Fiona Janes, Bernadette Cullen, Carlo Barricello, Sue Newsome, Dr. Michael Halliwell, Maree Ryan and Ole Bohn.

Benjamin Burton  

Pianist

Benjamin Burton is a talented young pianist with a passion for accompanying vocal and instrumental performances. In 2014, Ben did an internship with Opera Australia, and travelled on full scholarship to Munich, Germany as repetiteur for the Bel Canto Summer Program. In his role as accompanist, Ben has performed all over the country, and in 2016 will be continuing to perform with Voci Stupende, be an official accompanist for the Sydney and Shoalhaven Eisteddfods, and for the third time be pianist-in-residence for the 2016 Moorambilla Voices Festival. 2016 also sees Ben giving recitals with Susannah Lawergren, Hannah Fraser and Andrew O’Connor of The Song Company, and performing as first pianist in Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle.

Ben studied Piano Performance with an accompaniment focus at the Sydney Conservatorium with David Miller and Bernadette Harvey, and has also studied with David Howie and Stephen Mould. In 2012 and 2013 he won won the Mollie Neale award for highest marks in accompaniment he has also participated in masterclasses with Yvonne Kenny, Glenn Winslade, Fiona Janes, Bernadette Cullen, Carlo Barricello, Sue Newsome, Dr. Michael Halliwell, Maree Ryan and Ole Bohn.

     Sirius Ensemble   Sirius Chamber Ensemble was formed in 2011 by Ian Sykes (clarinet) and Alison Evans (bassoon) with Julia Zeltzer (french horn), Georgina Price (viola), and Clare Kahn (cello), later adding Claire Howard Race (piano), Melissa Coleman (flute) and Martyn Hentschel (violin) to the ensemble.  The name ‘Sirius’ pays homage to the flagship of the First Fleet, the H.M.S Sirius that sailed from Portsmouth, England to Port Jackson during 1787-1788.  Our passion is to perform music from the classic to contemporary periods, in a friendly and accessible atmosphere. We are committed to collaborating regularly with local composers and presenting new music alongside the classics. We relish the opportunity to perform the larger works for winds, strings and piano, as well as music for smaller groups of instrumentalists. Our repertoire is diverse and often features unusual combinations of instruments.  Sirius Chamber Ensemble performs a regular concert series featuring the core ensemble augmented by guest artists. Since 2014 we have also featured programs of music showcasing the music of local composers. Recent and upcoming collaborators include composers Alan Holley, Spike Mason, Christine Draeger, Paul Smith, Nigel Ubrihien; and performers Taryn Srhoj (soprano), Jermaine Chau (mezzo soprano), Andrew Smith (saxophone), Georgia Lowe (harp), Matthew Collins (trumpet) and Alex Fontaine (oboe).   https://siriuschamberensemble.com/about/

 

Sirius Ensemble

Sirius Chamber Ensemble was formed in 2011 by Ian Sykes (clarinet) and Alison Evans (bassoon) with Julia Zeltzer (french horn), Georgina Price (viola), and Clare Kahn (cello), later adding Claire Howard Race (piano), Melissa Coleman (flute) and Martyn Hentschel (violin) to the ensemble.

The name ‘Sirius’ pays homage to the flagship of the First Fleet, the H.M.S Sirius that sailed from Portsmouth, England to Port Jackson during 1787-1788.

Our passion is to perform music from the classic to contemporary periods, in a friendly and accessible atmosphere. We are committed to collaborating regularly with local composers and presenting new music alongside the classics. We relish the opportunity to perform the larger works for winds, strings and piano, as well as music for smaller groups of instrumentalists. Our repertoire is diverse and often features unusual combinations of instruments.

Sirius Chamber Ensemble performs a regular concert series featuring the core ensemble augmented by guest artists. Since 2014 we have also featured programs of music showcasing the music of local composers. Recent and upcoming collaborators include composers Alan Holley, Spike Mason, Christine Draeger, Paul Smith, Nigel Ubrihien; and performers Taryn Srhoj (soprano), Jermaine Chau (mezzo soprano), Andrew Smith (saxophone), Georgia Lowe (harp), Matthew Collins (trumpet) and Alex Fontaine (oboe).

https://siriuschamberensemble.com/about/

  Mariko Elliot  Graphic Designer  Mariko is a graphic designer based in Sydney, with an absolute love for hand-lettering, typography, illustrations, and food.  At three years old, she was asked "What do you want to be when you grow up?", and replied "I want to be an artist and a violinist." Spending most of her childhood years dedicating time to violin practice, she went on to study music at the Sydney Conservatorium, and then establish a career as a violin teacher.  After coming back from an inspirational holiday trip to New York, she decided to follow her true passion and pursue the desire to be part of the world's visual creativity.   Mariko graduated from Tractor Design School and Shillington College. She completed an internship at M&C Saatchi at Re Agency and was on the artistic team that   rebranded Optus   in 2015.

Mariko Elliot Graphic Designer

Mariko is a graphic designer based in Sydney, with an absolute love for hand-lettering, typography, illustrations, and food.

At three years old, she was asked "What do you want to be when you grow up?", and replied "I want to be an artist and a violinist." Spending most of her childhood years dedicating time to violin practice, she went on to study music at the Sydney Conservatorium, and then establish a career as a violin teacher.

After coming back from an inspirational holiday trip to New York, she decided to follow her true passion and pursue the desire to be part of the world's visual creativity. 

Mariko graduated from Tractor Design School and Shillington College. She completed an internship at M&C Saatchi at Re Agency and was on the artistic team that rebranded Optus in 2015.

Performances

2015 October // Hayes Theatre Co // New Music Network Mini Series

2015 September // Baroque Room, Katoomba // New Music Network Mini Series

2015 July // Festival of Voices, Hobart // Tasmanian Cabaret Festival

2016 October // Festival Fatale (shortlisted) // Eternity Playhouse

2016 May // In Concert for Pacific Opera Fundraiser // Independent Theatre 

 

Acknowledgments

The creative development of Fancy Me Dead in 2015 would not have been possible without the financial and in-kind support of these three companies that were instrumental in bringing this piece to life. 

 
 

credits

Composer & Librettist Paul Smith

Cora Taryn Srhoj

Dora Jermaine Chau

Pianist Benjamin Burton & Naomi Degabriele

 

Conductor Luke Spicer

Chamber Ensemble Sirius Ensemble

Graphic Design Mariko Elliot

 

media

http://www.cutcommonmag.com/opera-comedy-and-murder-with-composer-paul-smith/

http://www.bluemountainsgazette.com.au/story/3392260/festival-of-voices-hit-fancy-me-dead-comes-to-blue-mountains/