Australian librettist tells the history and process behind creating his new Australian opera.
The story of the relationship between the bushranger Michael Howe and the Aboriginal warrior Black Mary brims with sweeping themes – the quest for freedom, power, inter-racial love, betrayal, jealousy, and revenge. It’s also a web of tantalizing questions. What was Mary’s role in Howe’s rise – to the point where he declared himself Lieutenant Governor of the Woods and threatened Van Diemens Land’s government? Why did Howe lose the trust of his gang? What broke the relationship between Howe and Mary? Did he try to kill her? What was the role of Maria Lord, ex-convict wife of the richest man in the colony?
Howe was convicted of Highway Robbery and transported for seven years. He was prepared to do his prison time, but when he was assigned as a servant he considered it slavery. He declared he was no man’s slave, escaped and joined John Whitehead’s bushrangers. It was 1813. Hobart Town was just ten years old.
Deborah Cheetham AO sings Black Mary