Gina Williams is nervous.
With her songwriting partner Guy Ghouse she has played thousands of shows and recorded multiple albums. But as we speak she is preparing something completely different – their first opera.
Koolbardi wer Wardong is a cautionary tale about two brothers, Koolbardi the Magpie and Wardong the Crow, whose cunning, rivalry and one-upmanship ultimately brings them unstuck. Produced by West Australian Opera, the opera will be sung in Noongar – the language of the traditional owners of the land from Geraldton on the west coast of Western Australia to Esperance on the south coast – with English surtitles.
Williams and Ghouse have devoted much of their career to preserving the Noongar language, which with fewer than 400 fluent speakers, and as an oral language that was never codified, is in a precarious state. Together they have recorded three albums, performed countless concerts with a particular focus on school incursions, and have just published their first book of sheet music