★★★½☆ A perfectly understandable production of good clean gibberish.

Merlyn Theatre, The Coopers Malthouse
September 30, 2016

Whoever said an opera libretto had to make sense? Well, Gertrude Stein certainly pushed the notion of non-sense to its surreal limits in her first operatic collaboration with American composer, Virgil Thomson. Four Saints in Three Actsis nothing of the sort; it’s actually more like 16 saints in four acts in one sitting, but does that really matter?

Hayley Edwards, Imara Waldhart, Sophia Wasley and Shakira Dugan. Photo by Charlie Kinross

Questions of sense and sensibility abound in this work, but what does make good sense is Victorian Opera’s decision to use it as a vehicle for their youth opera project this season. The young cast has done an excellent job in memorising and polishing up Stein’s nonsense, set to Thomson’s tuneful, four-square music, much of which evokes his white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant upbringing, with a few “operatic” diversions along the way.

This surrealist saintly saga is accompanied by some appropriately zany three-dimensional visuals developed by Deakin Motion.Lab (the same outfit who provided images for the VO’s production of The Flying Dutchman). As you...