Miriam Gordon-Stewart and Rachelle Durkin hope Virginia might enjoy a slice of Rameau with a little hip hop on the side.

I guess it’s an understatement to say that Charlottesville has been in the news of late, and of course for all the wrong reasons. So it’s a pleasant change to find that a pair of high-flying ex-pat Australian opera singers are hoping to bring a little peace and sympathy to the troubled Virginian city by presenting the American premiere of a half-forgotten pastorale héroïquein three acts by Jean-Philippe Rameau.

Victory Hall Opera was founded two years ago by soprano Miriam Gordon-Stewart – among her many Australian roles, a notable Sieglinde in the 2013 Melbourne Ring– along with conductor Brenda Patterson and director Maggie Bell. All three had been working in the opera industry around the world for a good 15-20 years. “We realised that what we really wanted to be doing was creating the kind of opera that interested us,” Gordon-Stewart explains during a break in a busy rehearsal schedule. “We talked about it for a long time and eventually worked out that the only way to really advance our own version of this art form...