The Sydney Premiere of Adamo’s Little Women At The Con

Little Women: Audrey Gabor (Beth), Anna McDougall (Jo), Jessica Westcott (Meg) and Bridget Patterson (Amy). Photo: Ian Brown.
Little Women: Audrey Gabor (Beth), Anna McDougall (Jo), Jessica Westcott (Meg) and Bridget Patterson (Amy). Photo: Ian Brown.

Mark Adamo’s operatic adaptation of Louis May Alcott’s much-loved classic tale, Little Women, premieres in Sydney this October at the University of Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music.  Several cast members graduate from the Conservatorium at the end of this year and the Sydney premiere of Little Women offers to be a launching pad for this next crop of Australian opera stars. 

Commissioned by the Opera Studio of the Houston Grand Opera, Little Women was written in 1998 and premiered the same year in New York. Since then it has become one of the top ten operas in the US, with more than 70 productions performed world-wide. The Australian premiere of the opera took place in Adelaide in 2007.  The Sydney premiere offers audiences the chance to hear Adamo’s lush, tonal and searing score and imaginative libretto, written by Adamo himself and featuring text by John Bunyan, Goethe and Alcott.

Dr Michael Halliwell, Associate Professor of Vocal Studies and Opera at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music comments: “Adamo is part of a youngish generation of American composers who have opera at the centre of their musical output, and have an obviously passionate love of the operatic voice. These composers have returned to many of the traditional structures of opera, and while they draw on the gestures of musical modernism, the fundamental element of their operas is melody. One can actually come out of a performance of Little Women, like many other contemporary operas, whistling the tunes.”

Based on Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 novel, Little Women traces the close and enduring relationships between four sisters coming-of-age, as they grow up in Massachusetts, USA during the years following the American Civil War. It brings to life the characters of Meg, Amy, Beth and the indefatigable Jo, as they encounter the complexities of family, friendship and romance. Jo’s devotion to her sisters and reluctance to accept change are challenged by Beth’s illness. Forced to face the inevitability of adulthood and the responsibilities it brings, Jo realises that even the strongest love cannot ward off change and loss. 

This production by the Conservatorium, opens around Christmas time during the American Civil War of the early 1860s. From the first to the very last musical note, the moving family tale sees the characters cross from childhood and young adulthood, over a period of three years. 

Starring in the two lead roles are Anna McDougall, who plays Jo, the second eldest, headstrong sister and a ‘tomboy’ whom her father refers to as his ‘son Jo’; and Alexander Knight, who plays John Brooke, the young, hard-working orphan who falls for Jo’s sister Meg. 

Mezzo-soprano Anna McDougall and baritone Alexander Knight along with cast members Corinne Parker, Audrey Gabor, Bridget Patterson, Kathryn Williams, Jermaine Chau, Joel Scott, Daniel Tambasco and Andrew Williams will complete their tertiary studies at Conservatorium in 2014. 

Musical Director Eduardo Diazmuñoz and Director Narelle Yeo, along with the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Chamber Orchestra, will headline the Sydney opera premiere of Little Women.

Tickets: $50 adult, $25 student and concession
Bookings: Online at or City Recital Hall Angel Place (02) 8256 2222 (Booking fees may apply) 


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