Summer of the Seventeenth Doll
Based on Ray Lawlor’s 1955 Australian play of the same name, this chamber opera tells the story of a long-standing tradition at the end of the sugarcane season, in which cane-cutters Barney and Roo travel south to Melbourne for their annual fling with two city girls. But this year, the seventeenth year, is different.
Gone are the larrikin summers of their youth. Instead, their reunion is full of tension, silence, and awkward attempts to hold onto their past. One girl has married; all of them struggle to come to terms with what their futures hold.
Lawler’s play is considered to be the most significant in Australian playwriting, marking the first time the authentic Australian voice was depicted on stage. So too does Mills and Goldsworthy’s opera express, at its heart, something heroic, fragile, and utterly moving.