When it comes to strange bedfellows, writer Angus Grantâ€™s combination of opera and netball might just take the cake.
The two may at first sound like a strange fit, but Angus said they mesh surprisingly well in his new full-length musical comedy, Contact!, set to open in Melbourne this month.
â€œThe story works as a drama regardless of what musical form it is but when you add the music and opera, so many jokes work because the game itself and the yelling involved in it is so dramatic and operatic in the first place,â€ he said.
Angus, previously a high-school music teacher at an all-girls school, found watching the schoolâ€™s netball team play the sport â€œfascinatingâ€.
â€œThereâ€™s an incredible hierarchical structure as the team members are labelled with their positions and it gives you such a mirror into woman in society and the labelling that can occur,â€ he said.
â€œCombined with the rule that youâ€™re essentially allowed to do so little, I loved all that repression and structure and the possibility of them bursting into song.
â€œI have tried in the music to create a sense of the movement and energy of a netball court and to explore Australiansâ€™, sometimes unhealthy, passion for their sport.â€
Contact!, directed by Cameron Menzies, features a multi-talented cast including some of Melbourneâ€™s most exciting operatic talent from Opera Australia, Victorian Opera and the VCA.
The opera has evolved to a full-scale production after being the overwhelming favourite from the Arts Centre Melbourneâ€™s New Music Theatre Series in early 2011.
The show, with a libretto by Angus and Kate Schmitt, follows formidable coach Bev and the under-21 team from the Hyatt Park Rangers as they gear up for the big game against their long-time rivals.
â€œPeople love seeing their lives depicted on stage and there are more women than not who have lived the life of a netballer,â€ Angus said.
â€œBecause people enjoy the story first and foremost, they donâ€™t put up those barriers that one sometimes can with â€˜operaâ€™.
â€œDuring the 2011 workshop, I had one woman come up to me and said, â€˜I feel like youâ€™ve validated my life.â€™â€
As for the cast bringing Contact! to life:
â€œThe movement involved is a bit of a stretch from traditional operas but they are loving playing these characters,â€ Angus said.
â€œThey have sort of morphed into their characters even when not rehearsing as they are loving doing something out of the normal from the usual naughty maid etc.
â€œThey also get to say â€˜spewingâ€™ and â€˜get stuffedâ€™ which is always fun.â€
Contact! will take centre court at the Fairfax Studio at the Arts Centre in Melbourne from April 11 â€“ 29, followed by a regional tour of Victoria.
April 11-14, 17-21, 24-28 â€“ 7pm
April 13-15, 21-22, 28-29 â€“ 2pm
Tickets: $36 – $44 (Groups 7+ $32 per person)
TICKETS ON SALE NOW
Visit www.artscentremelbourne.com.au or phone 1300 182 183