Speechless Soloists

Introducing the soloists of Speechless, an opera by Cat Hope. Speechless features around 70 people on stage, including a choir who are organised into groups that align with the four soloists.

Tura spoke to Alice, Kusum, Judith and Sage about their experiences so far with the Speechless workshop development.

Alice Hui-Sheng Chang

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“Such an excitement to have so many talents in one room, with much to share and exchange. This process is enriching my practice and giving me time to reflect on different style of performance process and performative expressions.”

As a vocalist working with extended techniques, Alice builds intimate exchanges with her audience. She creates an array of timbres and textures by controlling tension in her throat and alternating the passage of air and vocalisations. Alice’s performances respond to the energy of the audience, employing sound varying from the calm to the extreme to create an awareness of the acoustic properties of the site. She challenges the boundary of a presentation site physically and imaginatively, viewing each performance as a site-specific response.

Alice is now based in Tainan, Taiwan. She is  the founder of Ting Shuo Hear Say, a community venue and organisation focused on listening, arts and discursive education.



Kusum Normoyle

“As a vocalist who has worked across a range of contexts including dance music, experimental music, sound art, improvisation and noise, working with Cat has been an entirely new experience.Cat’s invitation to collaborate is never token-istic, always genuine and consider’s a truly diverse set of approaches to music making as being viable within a contemporary opera context. It has been excellent to work with other very skilled vocalists in experimenting with relationship of voice to text, as embodied in this project by the visual score.”

Kusum Normoyle is an artist working with voice, sound, performance, and installation. She takes resonance, screaming, feedback and intervention and puts them to work in gallery, experimental and dance music contexts. Her work investigates aesthetic and literal expressions of voice/bodies, sound technologies, noise making and their relationship to location and materials.


Judith Dodsworth

“It is a privilege to be amongst such a committed and passionate team of artists. For me personally coming from a traditional operatic background I am finding myself challenged and reassessing my preconceptions and definition of the form. Stripped of the familiar elements of conventional notation, narrative arc or character, and with a libretto that is distilled to the point of abstraction, the emerging communicative power of the work is unarguable. I am also in awe of the extraordinary range of vocal skills being brought to the table by my fellow soloists.”

Judith Dodsworth has come to be regarded as one of Australia’s finest interpreters of contemporary vocal repertoire.

A graduate of the Australian National University and the Australian National Academy Of Music she has a masters degree in performance from the University Of Melbourne and has studied in Vienna and London, including with legendary new music soprano, Jane Manning.She has created leading roles in the premiere seasons of From A Black Sky for the Canberrra Street Theatre, Midnight Son and Metamorphosis for Victorian Opera, The Hive for Chambermade Opera, Opiume at the Singapore and Hong Kong Arts Festivals and in HIOB for Neue Oper Wien in Vienna.
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Sage Pbbbt

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“The score for this piece feels quite different from how I usually work and, I think, from how the other vocalists and the choir work. This has felt like a great opportunity to explore new ways of working and new ways of collaborating with people. The other vocal soloists have such different practices, but equal amounts of passion for, and commitment to, their varied crafts; working with them has felt nourishing and inspiring. As has having enough space in the process to explore the different sound worlds that we inhabit.”

Sage Pbbbt’s singing practice takes inspiration from Tuvan and Mongolian overtone singing, Inuit throat singing, sound poetry and her ongoing exploration of extra-normal vocal techniques. She also draws on industrial musick, trance, and drone; insight meditation practice, urban/industrial shamanism and chaos magick; feminist, queer and trans praxis; and Discordianism. She has performed both as a soloist and in various bands and collaborations for over 17 years in Australia and the UK and has presented conference papers in Glasgow, London and Melbourne.

Since August 2013 she has published a daily audio sketchbook of musick and ritual work in sound at SageMusick.Bandcamp.com. She writes under the name Sage J Harlow.