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A Short Chamber Opera

Spirit Orphan: Mountain Fire is a short chamber opera developed in response to bushfire and evacuations in the Gold Coast Hinterland.


Beyond experience of danger and displacement, Spirit Orphan: Mountain Fire is an autobiographical opera telling the story of Scottish migrant and Gold Coast Hinterland resident Jenna Robertson’s evacuation from bushfire. A night alone in an evacuation centre creates questions of connection to place. 


Composed for solo soprano, chamber orchestra and chorus, Spirit Orphan: Mountain Fire is a moving short chamber opera exploring the experience of human displacement by fire. Spirit Orphan: Mountain Fire had its world premiere in the 2021 Brisbane Music Festival.

The opera was developed in collaboration with community, who provided contributions to the libretto for the work. 

Spirit Orphan

  • Conceived by Jenna Robertson

  • Music Composition and Sound Design by Dr Corrina Bonshek

  • Libretto by Jenna Robertson

  • Additional libretto by Alexandra Dunn, Salvador Cantellano and Beechmountain Community Participants


  • Susan Rallings, Making Good Alliance for her support in fundraising.

  • Dr Mary Graham, Wakka Wakka/Kombumerri Elder for her guidance.

  • Lesley Aitchison, for her support in family ancestry research

Second Stage Development - Complete Opera

February 2021-September 2024

Second Stage Development scope included completing the music and libretto, development of a recording of the chamber opera, two programmed performances and an exhibition, a development week at HOTA and an industry/community showing.  It also includes a trip to Scotland  (est. 2024) for further research and connection with family to feed into the next stage of the project.  


Second Stage Team

Brisbane Music Festival April 2021 recording and performance team:

Conductor - Adrian Head

Chorus Master - Joshua Clifford

Chorus - Alison Paris, Talia Garrett-Benson, Madeline Gibbs, Jacque Prior

Chamber Orchestra - Rebekah Hall, Donica Tran, Harry Swainston, Shuhei Lawson, Dario Scalabrini, Jemima Drews, Andre Oberleuter, Alex Raineri, Corrina Bonshek (Sound Design)

Film crew - Salvador Cantellano and team.

Audio engineer (recording) - Geoff McGahan

Audio engineer (performance) - Jai Farrell

Second Stage Development of Spirit Orphan is made possible by support from Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, the Australian Government's Regional Arts Fund, which supports the arts in regional and remote Australia, and the Regional Arts Development Fund, which is a partnership between the Queensland Government and the City of Gold Coast Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland. Second stage is enabled through support from private donors and arts organisations: Brisbane Music Festival, World Science Festival Brisbane, QPAC, Opera Queensland, Folklore Studios, Home of the Arts, Gold Coast and Making Good Alliance. First stage development of Spirit Orphan was supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland and Opera Queensland. Research and development phase was supported through Generate GC: a City of Gold Coast initiative delivered in partnership with Situate.

First Stage Development - Initial Music & Short Film Development

August-October 2020 - COMPLETE

First Stage scope included development of initial music for the work and the creation of a short film about the project, which became an internationally award-winning short documentary.


First Stage Team:

  • Creator and Performer - Jenna Robertson

  • Composer and Sound Artist - Corrina Bonshek

  • Libretto - Jenna Robertson, Alexandra Dunn and Community

  • Conductor - Adrian Head

  • Singers - Alison Paris, Talia Garrett-Benson, Regan Flor, Jacque Prior

  • Filmmaker - Salvador Cantellano

  • Audio Engineer - Geoff McGahan

First Stage residency with Corrina Bonshek was made possible by the Australian Government through Arts Queensland.

Research & Development through Generate GC

Nov 2019-August 2020

The concept for Spirit Orphan was created through Jenna's place as an Artist on the Generate GC program.  Generate GC is a program for exceptional independent artists to develop new works.  Generate GC is a City of Gold Coast initiative delivered in partnership with the internationally acclaimed program Situate - Art in Festivals. R&D period was supported by Situate and City of Gold Coast.

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