Camille O’Sullivan: Changeling

Camille O’Sullivan knows that if she wants to move to Melbourne, she’ll have adoring fans and endless friends eager to see her do anything, meow on the streets with her and invite her to dinner. She’s something else. And then some. And there are only two more chances to see her Changeling at Arts Centre Melbourne.

Changeling, Camille O'Sullivan
Camille O’Sullivan

O’Sullivan was last in Melbourne in 2013 in her solo performance of the Royal Shakespeare Society’s remarkable The Rape of Lucrece. It left me shaking. I wrote: “… her voice comes from her heart and she sings with an emotion that comes from somewhere so deep and personal that it feels like every word was written for her.”

What she said.

Changeling is an album and a stage show of songs O’Sullivan didn’t write. They’re songs from the likes of Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Jacques Brel, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and Radiohead; she sings them like they were written for her. With a voice as lush and smooth as rolling naked in velvet that surprises with sharp and shining sequins, she takes male point-of view songs, finds the emotion at the heart of the song and turns it into something that celebrates everything about the original song while being almost unrecognisable.

And she shares the absolute joy of singing these songs. Emotion is laid bare and there are no barriers between her and her audience. A lot of work has gone into making the music and words hers, but she is her authentic self on the stage. At times she’s turned up to 11, but there’s no doubt that every emotion on show comes from something very real.

And that’s how you reach the heart of everyone in your audience (even before we sang “Ship Song” together).

She’s supported by three Australian musicians and a light show made from frocks, mirror balls, candles, fairy lights and a rabbit lamp. It’s simple and so beautiful, and makes the formal Fairfax studio feel as welcoming and decadent as the Spiegeltent, where O’Sullivan first performed.

Arts Centre Melbourne is programming some terrific stuff in the Fairfax this summer. Tom Crouch’s wonderful I, Malvolio has finished, Changeling is this week and Paul Capsis in Little Bird opens next week.

And if you missed Changeling, it’s off to Brisbane and the Adelaide Fringe.

Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

Anne-Marie Peard

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