Opera miniseries: Divorce: The soap opera

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Title

Opera: The Art of Emotions


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)




Rusak, H. (2016). Opera miniseries: Divorce: The Soap Opera. Presented at Opera: The Art of Emotions, Wyselaskie Auditorium, Parkville, Melbourne.

Available here.


Last year saw the screening of Divorce: The Soap Opera on ABC Television. With a score by Elena Kats-Chernin and libretto by Joanna Murray-Smith, the series screened over four consecutive nights December 7–10, 2015. The concept driven by opera Australia’s Artistic Director, Lyndon Terracini revisits television opera which has been a popular genre since the invention of television. Within the genre exists opera produced in television studios; cameras moving into the opera house; or using film techniques developed by the film industry in the 20th century. Luminaries such as Gian Carlo Menotti, Benjamin Britten and Peter Sculthorpe have had some success in composing opera for television. Divorce takes advantage of contemporary film techniques in a collaboration with ABC TV Arts and independent company Princess Pictures for both television and online consumption. This paper will address the composer’s musical response to the genre and provide a case study on the writing of opera for television. It will interrogate how the emotions relating to the subject of “Divorce” are musically expressed through the television medium.

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