The casualties in the arts during the COVID-19 crisis have been horrific. After cancellation upon cancellation of the year’s performance calendar, it is gratifying, however, to see Melbourne-based Gertrude Opera’s 2020 Yarra Valley Opera Festival survive the devastation wreaked by the pandemic. While much bigger companies around the country are grappling with our new state of living, Gertrude Opera’s CEO/Artistic Director Linda Thompson has worked around restrictions and invested in a 10-day online program of events. For its audience, rather than hoping disruptions won’t interfere with getting to a theatre, one hopes technical glitches won’t cause similar distress. None so far!

A high-calibre Gala at Home opened the festival on Friday evening and on Saturday evening, Pulitzer Prize winning American composer David Lang’s  love fail made its Australian premiere, a work inspired by the oft retold tragic love story of Tristan and Isolde.

The scene A different Manfrom David Lang’s chamber opera love failwith actors Charlotte Simcock as Lizzie and John Landis as Tristan. Photograph supplied

It’s not the first time Gertrude Opera has premiered Lang’s work. In the company’s inaugural 2015 festival,...