First opera sung entirely in Noongar language commissioned in WA

A new commission will retell a story of sibling rivalry that’s been shared for generations on Noongar boodja in south-west Australia.

A dramatic retelling of the rivalry between two fiercely competitive brothers sounds like the perfect plot for an opera, an artform long associated with larger than life dramas and dangerous passion.

Its fitting then, that West Australian Opera will present Koorlbardi wer Wardong – a Wesfarmers Arts commission – in 2021.

To be sung in Noongar, the language of the First Peoples of south-western Australia, Koorlbardi wer Wardong will retell the story of brothers Koorlbardi (magpie) and Wardong (crow), who give in to jealousy and competition and in doing so, lose their pure white feathers and become the birds we know today.

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Richard Watts is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on Three Triple R FM, and serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre's volunteer Committee of Management. Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Living Legend in 2017. In 2020 he was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize. Most recently, Richard was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Green Room Awards Association in June 2021. Follow him on Twitter: @richardthewatts