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New Opera Co-created With AI

February 1 @ 10:00 am - April 29 @ 4:00 pm

Margaret and the Grey Mare is a free, immersive, multi-channel video installation opera, created by visual artist Katy B Plummer and composer Sally Whitwell with a bespoke artificial intelligence. Coder Flora Suen has trained the AI to act as a channel to the ancient Celtic land spirit that is The Grey Mare, which speaks in symbolic, oracular verse. The video was filmed by award winning filmmaker, Kuba Dorabialski. The story takes place over one week during the height of the 17th century European witch trials.

The opera features mezzo soprano Margaret Plummer (who sings with Vienna State Opera and is also the artist’s sister), Opera Australia baritone Michael Honeyman as the Witch Finder, and Katy B Plummer as the ghostly Grey Mare herself. Happening in parallel with the action, is a second film featuring the intensely serene presence of another audient, played by performer Sarah Jessica Carpark and filmed on location in a real farm setting.

The orchestra comprises cellist Freya Shack Arnott, with the composer Sally Whitwell on piano, prepared piano and found object percussion.

The audience enters the semi-darkened space to see the large film screen framed operatically with red velvet curtains. They walk across its blood-red floor toward the screen, above which is projected a mapped image of the moon which phases as the action progresses. They sit on one of several wooden beds, the same bed as the one that appears in the film itself. Similarly, the textures of all the fabrics present in the opera set, calicos, satins and even loose threads, are also present in the viewing room with the audience invited to touch everything. There are even satin blankets supplied, quilted in the shape of a horse’s head.

Margaret and the Grey Mare is a free event showing until 29 April at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre.

It plays on a loop once an hour, every hour.
Tuesday-Friday: 10am-5pm, Saturday: 10am-9pm, Sunday: 10am-4pm.