• Joy of Music – Over 250 years of quality, innovation, and tradition
  • Home
  • Blog
  • Work of the Week – Mary Finsterer: Biographica

Work of the Week – Mary Finsterer: Biographica

A journey into the psyche of 500 years ago: Australian composer Mary Finsterer embarks on an extraordinary search for clues in her opera Biographica. The work will be premiered in Melbourne on September 21. Here at Theare Works, it will be directed by Heather Fairbairn and conducted by Patrick Burns.

Biographica is a Renaissance-inspired chamber opera for one actor, five voices and eleven instruments, based on the extraordinary life and death of Gerolamo Cardano (1501-1576). Based on a libretto by Tom Wright, the piece is formally a series of portraits. It will be sung in English and Latin. 

Renaissance genius on the operatic stage in Biographica by Mary Finsterer

The individual portraits, or spotlights on the person of Cardano, refer to moments of transformation, elation and tragedy in his life. They are not presented in a linear fashion, but in a way that shows a mind reflecting on the events of its own existence. Between each portrait, Cardano's spoken monologues reveal his wisdom and his view of the world. The libretto and the interlocking musical events of the opera capture the experience of a feverish moment in history when the world of facts and the world of the soul were intertwined.

Cardano's writings are insightful and bizarre, capturing a moment in history when the world took a startling leap in thought and complexity. His writings reveal a deeply human and imaginative soul. (Mary Finsterer and Tom Wright)

While Biographica is being staged for the third time in an opera house in Australia since its premiere in 2017, the piece still awaits discovery on other continents. In Melbourne, it will run for five performances through October 01, 2023.


Mary Finsterer: Composer Profile  

Biographica: Werkdetails und Online-Partitur  

Website Theatre Works Melbourne

photo Mary Finsterer: Dean Golja