Australia’s first Indigenous opera set for Adelaide debut

The score for soprano and composer Deborah Cheetham’s labour of love will be performed by the Adelaide Art Orchestra.

Photo by Robert Jefferson 

Deborah Cheetham’s Pecan Summer had its world premiere on country in the Victorian town of Mooroopna in October 2010. The story of the first mass strike by Aboriginal people in Australian history, the opera details the 1939 walk-off from Cummeragunga Mission, when some 200 people of the Yorta Yorta nation, pushed to breaking point by the draconian conditions enforced by the New South Wales Aboriginal Protection Board, walked out of the mission and across the Murray River to re-settle in northern Victoria.

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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