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Article: Notable Success

  • by Kelly Burke — © John Fairfax Holdings
  • Source: Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 19 December 1998, Spectrum, pp.3
  • Only 10% of this article's text is displayed below for reference purposes.
    Please contact the copyright holder/source publication to obtain the full article.

When she came to Australia at the age of 17, she was sacked from her first job, in a milk bar, after four shifts. Now she is enjoying worldwide acclaim for contemporary music that can be complex and academic - and fun. KELLY BURKE reports

FULL-FRONTAL nudity, ritualised body shaving, violence, blasphemy and bad language. Despite the confronting subject matter, Elena Kats-Chernin emerged last week triumphant from delving into that most elite of musical art forms, opera.

Matricide has just completed its premiere season by the Victorian- based company Chamber Made Opera, with the adjectives "marvellous", "dangerous", "absorbing" and "challenging" featuring prominently in Melbourne reviews.

Kats-Chernin is not a woman familiar with feigned emotions. She runs on an inexhaustible supply of spontaneous energy, informed by an uncommon intellect expressing itself through rapid-fire conversation. The words tumble over each other; the ideas come in unflagging succession. That the critics have embraced her latest work, a musical treatment of the true story of two lovestruck teenage girls who bludgeoned to death the mother who sought to separate them (the same synopsis which, in the 1995 film Heavenly Creatures, brought the New Zealand director Peter Jackson and English actor Kate Winslet international recognition), is an obvious source of pleasure to her, and the composer is only now beginning ...