Turbulence (thumbnail), photo Daisy Noyes

Lights pop and flicker through the passenger cabin, though they remain switched on.

Daughter           the underlying forces are usually hidden by an almost perfect balance

Mother              External factors, certainly … . How can one unravel this complexity?

Daughter          we are taught that it is out of reach from a fundamental point of view

The Daughter stands up. She grips the seat in front of   her to remain upright as the plane pitches for a slow moment.

Mother              Well, cracks make the problem more subtle. …

Threats of disaster occasioned by climate change; the nebulous edges of jetstreams; the volatile pressures of ‘the family romance’; the precariousness inherent to language itself—this chamber opera brings into coincidence myriad images of turbulence. It was also inspired, in part, by research into the history of the passenger aeroplane intercom.

A Mother and her 19-year-old Daughter are seated apart. The dynamic of their relationship is intensified and displaced into the airline cabin they share with the audience. The Mother’s mood is expansive, even as, to borrow Rainer Maria Rilke’s phrase, she loves her solitude. The Daughter’s attitude is abrasive. Her utterances are like arrows fired across the confined space, forcefully seeking their target, the reassurance of attention.

Into this strangely engrossing situation of indirect repartee erupt other voices, electronic broadcasts both intended and accidental that further charge the atmosphere. There float the poetry and melody of the Mother’s aria, ‘For those who are near you are far away’. The drama is internal and external, as are the repercussions.

Creative Team

  • Composer Juliana Hodkinson
  • Librettist Cynthia Troup
  • Director David Young
  • Sound Design Jethro Woodward
  • Performers Deborah Kayser, Anneli Bjorasen
  • Also, Pre-recorded:
    • Margaret Cameron
    • Emilia D. Hodkinson
    • Sana Mukarker-Schwippert
  • Pocket Piano Juliana Hodkinson, Dylan Sheridan
  • Stage Management Georgia Rann

Premiere season: Melbourne private living room, Northcote, part of the 2013 Chamber Made Opera Living Room Opera series and Melbourne Fringe, presented by Chamber Made Opera and New Music Network

Turbulence 462 large
Deborah Kayser, Anneli Bjorasen: Turbulence (photo Daisy Noyes)

Press & Reviews

Faced with the desertion of our future, are we condemned to sing a solo aria, as does [soprano Deborah] Kayser … reminiscing about a ‘sea as blue as a baby’s eye’?
Partial Durations
The wonders of giving birth and the joys of contemplating a baby were counterpointed by the irrationality of life that brings with it failure, conflict and barriers to intimacy.
I loved every moment of Turbulence. … I liked the libretto, the performers, and the aria was a striking piece of music.
Brian Ritchie

Performance History

6–10 December: Melbourne, RMIT Design Hub, live performance (7 December) and dual screen installation centred on Turbulence as re-imagined by film-maker Peter Humble, part of Agile Chambers, a week of open research laboratories supported by the Australian Research Council
3–4 September: Lorne, Springlea homestead, part of the Lorne Festival of Performing Arts inaugural Drawing Room Series
17 November–5 December: Melbourne, Arts House, screening of Turbulence as re-imagined by film-maker Peter Humble, part of Chamber Made Opera's #IntimatelyEpic project
14 October: Melbourne, Federation Square, premiere screening of Turbulence as re-imagined by film-maker Peter Humble
7 June: Stuttgart, Theaterhaus, excerpts recorded live for radio broadcast by SWR/Südwestrundfunk (South-West German Radio), part of the festival Lost & Found – Stimme. Text. Szene
23 November: (ABC recording) ABC Classic FM 105.9 radio broadcast in the program New Music Up Late; read more
2–3 November: Macedon VIC, Lowland Farm, part of the 2013 Chamber Made Opera Macedon Living Room Opera Weekend
3–12 October: Melbourne, a private living room, Northcote, part of the 2013 Chamber Made Opera Living Room Opera series

Further Reading

Turbulence re-imagined for the online collection LIGE: Et Digitalt Festskrift for Samtidskunst (2015); watch & listen here

Turbulence libretto and score as published by Edition Wilhelm Hansen (Copenhagen, 2015); preview here

Turbulence program, a private living room in Northcote (2013); read here

Hodkinson, Juliana, ‘Sonic Writing: A Vibrational Practice’, Seismograf/PR, no. 1 (2014); read here

Leviston, Heather, ‘Turbulence’ [review], ArtsHub, 7 October 2013; read here

Lorenzon, Matthew, ‘Taking Flight in a Living Room’ [review], RealTime, no. 118 (2013), p. 42; read here (first published as ‘Chamber Made Opera: Turbulence’ [review], Partial Durations, 7 October 2013; read here)

Prior, Sian, [review], Culture Club Reviews, 10 October 2013; read here

Ross, Annabel, ‘Acts Walk off Stage into New Spaces’, The Age, 20 September 2013

Troup, Cynthia, ‘Turbulence or, “the underlying forces usually hidden”: Libretto for a Living Room Opera in Three Scenes Composed by Juliana Hodkinson’, 2013; read here

_____‘Thinking about Turbulence’, reflections [written October 2013, unpublished]; read here

Westwood, Matthew, ‘Opera Propelled by Spirit of Adventure’, The Australian, 16 June 2015

Woodhead, Cameron, ‘Fascinating Opera for Flight-Seekers’ [review], The Age, 7 October 2013; read here