Tristan - screener

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Nigel Kellaway

Year: 2008, 12 mins
Code: NK-Tristan

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Part of a set of excerpts from ten major works by Nigel Kellaway (1994 - 2004), assembled and edited by Kellaway and his long-time associate, video artist Peter Oldham.

The Opera Project’s first major production venture, The Romantic Trilogy completed in 1999, was a radical reassessment of our theatrical heritage, rampaging through a musical, theatrical and literary repertoire of remarkable scope. Tristan (1999) portrayed the male body and psyche as a feminised hero (and victim?) and explored the woman’s body in a repudiation of its casting as male inscribed victor.

"This work is thought-provoking, intelligent and clearly funny for those who enjoy examining the boundaries of sexuality, as in the way Tristan picks at his wound."
Peter McCallum, Sydney Morning Herald, May 17, 1999

Other performances from Nigel Kellaway's Works 1994-2004:
This Most Wicked Body (17'50'')
The Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior (4'30'')
The Berlioz: Our Vampires Ourselves (14'55'')
The Terror of Tosca (22'15'')
Little George (17'20'')
El Inocente (7'10'')
Entertaining Paradise (16')
Another Night: Medea (14'05'')

The Audience and Other Psychopaths (18'40'')

More from Kellaway / The opera Project Inc - DVD & Streaming:
Nigel Kellaway in Sleepers wake! wachet auf!
The Rameau Project
Brief Synopsis

NIGEL KELLAWAY - Artistic Director of The opera Project Inc.

In a career embracing his skills as an actor, director, dancer, musician and contemporary performance maker, Nigel Kellaway's initial professional performance training was in music, majoring in piano and composition at the universities of Melbourne and Adelaide.

He was the first Australian actor to train with Tadashi Suzuki and his Suzuki Company Of Toga (1984-85) and also worked with butoh artist Min Tanaka in Tokyo. Over 35 years, he has more than seventy full length theatre, dance and music works with companies including The One Extra Company, Sydney Theatre Company, Entr'acte, Terrapin Puppet Theatre, Sidetrack Performance Group, Legs on the Wall, Ihos Contemporary Opera, the Australian Dance Theatre, Stalker, Calculated Risks Opera Productions, the Song Company, Splinters Theatre of Spectacle, Urban Theatre Projects and Stopera and for venues including Performance Space (NSW), the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (WA) and The Royal Court Theatre (UK).

He was a co-founder, in 1987, of the performance ensemble The Sydney Front (of which a large selection of the performances are available on both DVD & Streaming), with major productions including THE PORNOGRAPHY OF PERFORMANCE (1988), PHOTOCOPIES OF GOD (1989), DON JUAN (1991), FIRST AND LAST WARNING (1992) and PASSION (1993). The Sydney Front toured extensively within Australia and Europe, to the UK and Hong Kong. Solo performance works include PERFORMER (1977), GIVE ME A ROSE TO SHOW HOW MUCH YOU CARE (1986), THE NUREMBERG RECITAL (1989) and THIS MOST WICKED BODY (1994), a ten day, 240 hour performance marathon with percussionist David Montgomery, video artist Peter Oldham and restaurateur Gay Bilson, which toured to the 1998 Telstra Adelaide Festival with pianist Gerard Willems and Gay Bilson.

Over the past fifteen years a major focus of his work has been in contemporary music theatre. In 1997 he directed the Colin Bright/Amanda Stewart opera THE SINKING OF THE RAINBOW WARRIOR with the Song Company and Australysis for the Sydney Festival on Sydney Harbour, and in 2001 co-devised and directed LITTLE GEORGE, again with the Song Company. His collaborations with Canberra based Stopera have been dISTRESSING THE DIVA in 1998 and the Clérambault/Rameau derived CANTATA in 2003.

In 1997 he co-founded with Annette Tesoriero The opera Project Inc., a loose ensemble of actors, musicians and physical performers dedicated to the mission of reassessing "opera" (and its accoutrement) as a contemporary performance practice. Major works by the company have been THE BERLIOZ - our vampires ourselves (1997, toured nationally in 2001), THE TERROR OF TOSCA (1998), TRISTAN (1999), EL INOCENTE (2001), ENTERTAINING PARADISE (2002), ANOTHER NIGHT: MEDEA (2003), THE AUDIENCE AND OTHER PSYCHOPATHS (2004), SLEEPERS WAKE! WACHET AUF! (2007) and THE RAMEAU PROJECT (2009).

He served on the dance committee of the Australia Council from 1993-96 and in 1997 was awarded the Rex Cramphorn Theatre Scholarship by the NSW Ministry for the Arts. Kellaway has been a leader in the development of avant-garde and hybrid performance practices in Australia over the past three decades, and in 2004 was awarded a senior artist's Fellowship by the Theatre Board of the Australia Council to devote two years to his continuing research into theatrical, operatic and contemporary performance practices.

"Tristan is all stops-out, outrageous music theatre, incredibly intimate, brazen and seductive – a recital gone mad, the dark side death-wish of 19th century opera laid bare.

“Tristan” tells you all you never wanted to know about Wagner but were afraid someone would ask. Why do all the women die in soaring ecstasy about half an hour after the men have carked it? What exactly are those suppurating slit-like wounds in Tristan and Parsifal which never heal? And just what is it with the big bosoms anyway?

This work is thought-provoking, intelligent and clearly funny for those who enjoy examining the boundaries of sexuality, as in the way Tristan picks at his wound."
Peter McCallum, Sydney Morning Herald, May 17, 1999

"Tristan is the third and final work in The opera Project’s Romantic Trilogy.

As with previous opera Project works, Tristan is derived from a work that audiences are oddly intent upon revisiting time and time again. And again, it explores the issues of gender representation in the theatre – the transgressive heroine (Isolde) and the nature of the “feminised” hero (Tristan).

Like other opera Project works, “Tristan” is ambitious. It sets out to challenge the way “the work” functions as a classic, the way it represents romance, sex and gender, what makes it tick."
Leigh Raymond, Sydney Star Obsever, May 20, 1999

"In this Tristan, the hero (Nigel Kellaway) barge-bound, adrift in limbo, and not as dead as he’d like to be, floats into a song recital delivered by a wounded but majestic “no-bullsit-please” soprano (Annette Tesoriero). Is this his Isolde? Or is it the miscast actress (Regina Heilmann) who dispassionately pursues him? Or is it the distant, dancing figure (Xu Fengshan) of his dream of transcendence? Keeping things barely under control is Tristan’s minder (Jai McHenry), a doctor of philosophy, medicine “and everything” with the deathwish of Schopenhauer, the psychosis of Dr Miracle (the soprano killer in The Tales of Hoffmann), the demeanour of Dr Caligari and the ‘optimism’ of Hitler’s favourite, Oswald Spengler.

Stylish, surprising, gutsy and intelligent and, as a result, thoroughly engaging … this production heaps image on image, idea on idea until it reaches a crescendo."
Stewart Hawkins, The Daily Telegraph,  May 21, 1999

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