Watershed: Haunting opera on the death of Dr Duncan


Watershed opera on death of Dr Duncan
Image: Opera Australia

In 1972, a brutal act of violence forever changed the course of Australia’s LGBT history. Dr. George Duncan, a law lecturer, was thrown into the River Torrens in Adelaide, a crime that tragically ended his life and exposed the rampant homophobia of the time.

The moment in time triggered an alleged police cover-up, a city-wide scandal, national outrage, a Scotland Yard investigation… and a glaring absence of convictions.

Dr Duncan’s death not only sparked outcry but also ignited an unstoppable movement for legal and social reform that still resonates today. The incident led South Australia to decriminalise homosexuality, ahead of the rest of the country.

Opera Australia’s Watershed: The Death of Dr Duncan is a groundbreaking production that brings this pivotal moment to life. Gay Australian author Christos Tsiolkas (Loaded, The Slap) and Helpmann Award-winning playwright Alana Valentine have created a searing, no-punches-pulled libretto.

Brisbane composer Joe Twist’s score is luscious and ultimately transcendent. Australian theatre and opera legend Neil Armfield is at the helm of the production.

Set against the backdrop of 1970s Australia, the story delves into the personal and societal ramifications of Dr. Duncan’s death, spotlighting the struggle for justice and equality that followed. The production is a poignant reminder of the courage and resilience of the LGBT community.

Watershed explores themes of prejudice, injustice, and the fight for human rights, drawing parallels to the ongoing challenges faced by the community today.

It fuses inquest transcripts, press clippings, private correspondence and monologues spanning five decades of anti-gay violence, and pays tribute to the unassuming academic whose untimely death lit a fuse.

Watershed is not just a historical recount but a powerful call to remember and honour the sacrifices made by those who fought for the rights we now strive to protect and expand.

The creative team has ensured that the portrayal is both respectful and impactful, offering a deeply immersive experience that underscores the importance of solidarity and advocacy within the LGBT community.

This compelling opera will be performed at the iconic Sydney Opera House from June 14 – 16, 2024.

Tickets are now available and can be purchased through the Sydney Opera House website. Don’t miss this opportunity to witness a piece of history brought to life on stage, a testament to the enduring fight for equality and justice.

For ticket information and bookings, visit https://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/opera-australia/2024-season/watershed

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