A 2019 Perth Festival World Premiere

Leave what you know about opera at the door.

Composer/Director Cat Hope
Produced by Tura New Music

A contemporary opera giving a voice to the voiceless

Imagine a world where you have no voice. Is it this world?

In contemporary Australia, many of us are silenced; legally, politically or culturally. Speechless – a powerful new opera by award-winning composer, Cat Hope – is a personal response to the 2014 Human Rights Commission report ‘The Forgotten Children: National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention’. Through a vocal language beyond words, Speechless is a channel for Hope to come to terms with the things she see perpetrated in her name by those in positions of power.

Speechless features one of Australia’s finest interpreters of contemporary vocal repertoire Judith Dodsworth, lead singer of the Australian heavy metal powerhouse High Tension, Karina Utomo, Western Australian experimental vocalist Sage Pbbbt and expatriate vocal trailblazer Tara Tiba with a combined community choir of 30 voices and the Australian Bass Orchestra.

While following the structure of conventional opera, Speechless’ unique score is derived from drawings and graphics extracted from the Report and performed using networked iPads. This World Premiere season is designed specifically for the new Sunset Heritage Arts Precinct.

Immerse yourself in a compelling, courageous and visceral sonic world.

“… when all words fail, music speaks.” Aussie Theatre

“…a deeply moving, almost spiritual experience. It would have been impossible to have remained disconnected from the passion and intensity of this performance.” Limelight Magazine

Sunset Heritage Precinct
80 Birdwood Parade Dalkeith WA 6009

8pm, 26 Feb – 3 Mar 2019
$25-$49 (+BF) Tickets from Perth Festival


Cat Hope
Director and Composer Cat Hope is a composer, sound artist, performer, songwriter and noise artist. She is a classically trained flautist, self-taught vocalist, experimental bassist and is the director of Decibel new music ensemble. She won the Award for Excellence in Experimental Music at the APRA AMC Art Awards In 2011 and 2014, and the People’s Choice award for her organ concerto ‘Black Emperor’ in the International Space Time Concerto competition in 2011. She is a Churchill and Civitella Ranieri Fellow, and has been in pop bands (Gata Negra, Quartered Shadows, Mice Vice), noise groups (Abe Sada, Candied Limbs, HzHzHz) as well as new music and orchestral groups. She has directed dance/music collaborations (the Velvet Palace, 1999) and curated new music programs. Cat is currently Professor and head of school at the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music at Monash University


Judith Dodsworth
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.

Karina Utomo
Indonesian born Karina Utomo is the vocalist for Australian metal band High Tension, with members Matt Weston (The Sage Pbbbt Nation Blue), Lauren Hammel (Tropical F* Storm) and Mike Deslandes (YLVA). High Tension’s critically acclaimed releases have been nominated for ARIA and AIR awards for ‘Best Heavy Album’ and received The Age Music Victoria award. High Tension has toured with Refused, Sick Of It All, The Bronx and performed at Laneway, Splendour in the Grass, Download and Dark Mofo festivals. Utomo is a regular fill-in host on Triple J’s metal program ‘The Racket’ and hosts a regular monthly segment.

Sage Pbbt
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.

Tara Tiba
Tara Tiba is one of Australia’s most distinctive and significant musical voices.  Born in Iran and based in Perth, Western Australia, Tara has been acclaimed as an expatriate trailblazer for her extraordinary voice and repertoire that fuses traditional Persian singing with Western Jazz, Latin, Flamenco, Fado, New World folk and experimental contemporary music. Tara released her debut album, A Persian Dream, in 2012. Tara has toured extensively internationally and performed at the 2016 Perth Festival opening event, Home.

The Australian Bass Orchestra
The Australian Bass Orchestra, featured in the opera, are a group that come together to play music where the range never goes above middle C. Membership is open to any instrument, as long as it has the capacity to play in this range. Cat Hope formed the group in 2014 and since then it has played at the Now Now Festival in Sydney and at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts. Specialising in graphic and text scores enables members of the orchestra to come from any kind of music genre. Using the Australian Bass Orchestra in this work provides a visceral, physical experience of the sound, a characteristic of low frequency sound.


Produced by Tura New Music
Composer and Director Cat Hope
Producer Annalisa Oxenburgh (for Tura New Music)
Musical Director Aaron Wyatt
Sound Designer Guy Smith
Lighting Designer Matt Adey
Staging Consultant Sally Richardson

Production Partners
Perth Festival
Monash University


Monash University
The Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music at Monash University supports new Australian work and artistic research in music.


Speechless and Tura New Music are supported by the State Government through the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, in association with Lotterywest and The Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding advisory body.

Image by Paul Tadday.