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Mary Finsterer


Tom Wright

Presented by

Sydney Chamber Opera


85 mins



Performance Language



Sydney Chamber Opera continues its pioneering development of the new opera canon with Biographica by Australian composer Mary Finsterer with a libretto by Tom Wright. Biographia is an intricate dance of genius and madness, inspired by the life and demise of Renaissance polymath Gerolamo Cardano.

Cardano was a magnificent and eccentric mind – a prolific inventor and flawed father, solitary, aggressive, peculiar. A man who would listen to a guardian angel, swear by science, and dream of defeating time. He wrote the first texts on the mathematics of gambling, was a world-renowned surgeon, invented algebra, and was a pioneer of sign-language. Leading Australian actor Mitchell Butel stars in this fascinating role, with Finsterer’s music reflecting the piercing beauty of the Renaissance much like maniera painting; rich, florid, bold.

Malthouse’s resident director Janice Muller unites with SCO to develop this extraordinary interrogation of the mind and the soul.

Further information about Composer Mary Finsterer can be found on the Australian Music Centre website.


Gerolamo Cardano Mitchell Butel
Chiara Mother Jane Sheldon
Chiara Daughter Jessica O'Donoghue
Caterina Anna Fraser
Aldo/Cassanate Andrew Goodwin
Archbishop/Giambattista Simon Lobelson

Flutes Lamorna Nightingale, Clarinets Jason Noble, Saxophones Christina Leonard, Piano/Celesta Zubin Kanga, Harp Rowan Phemister, Percussion Claire Edwardes Violins Miki Tsunoda, Anna McMichael, Viola/viola d’amore James Wannan, Cello Freya Schack-Arnott, Double Bass Kirsty McCahon

Composer Mary Finsterer
Libretto Tom Wright
Conductor Jack Symonds
Director Janice Muller
Designer Charles Davis
Lighting Matt Cox
Video Design James Brown
Creative Associate Matthew Lutton
Assistant Director Danielle Maas

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