The adaptation of fine Australian literature is familiar in local opera with works based on the writing of Patrick White, Tim Winton and Helen Garner coming to mind. However,  Summer of the Seventeenth Dollby composer Richard Mills and librettist Peter Goldsworthy, adapted in 1996 from the groundbreaking 1955 Ray Lawler play, must rank amongst the finest. I enjoyed the Sydney based production back in the late nineties; however it was marred by poor ticket sales and perhaps a little of that well-known interstate rivalry. Stuart Maunder’s ongoing series of Lost Australian Operas for State Opera of South Australia has reached a peak with this very fine production, directed by Joseph Mitchell, wherein everything seems to go right. In fact, in this new production it would appear that the opera has finally found its worth and place.

Antoinette Halloran as Olive and Joshua Rowe as Roo. Photograph © Soda Street Productions

The production excels on all fronts – an excellent ensemble cast, great musical direction, and simple yet ingenious stage design and lighting. Here, Adelaide novelist Peter Goldsworthy’s idiomatic libretto and Mills’ score,...