top of page

A Chamber Opera
In Development


Spirit Orphan is a contemporary chamber opera in development responding to bushfire and evacuations in the Gold Coast Hinterland in 2019.


Beyond experience of danger and displacement, Spirit Orphan is the story of Scottish migrant and Gold Coast Hinterland resident Jenna Robertson’s recovery from bushfire. A night alone in an evacuation centre creates questions of connection to place and provokes a deep exploration of her migrant identity and ancestry. 

Being written for solo soprano, chamber orchestra and chorus, Spirit Orphan is a moving work that invites questions about belonging, identity and recovery.

Spirit Orphan

  • Created by Jenna Robertson

  • Music Composition and Sound Design by Dr Corrina Bonshek

  • Libretto by Jenna Robertson, Alexandra Dunn and Lower Beechmont and Beechmont Community Research Participants

  • Collaborator - Salvador Cantellano


  • Susan Rallings, Making Good Alliance

  • Aunty Dr Mary Graham, Yugambeh Elder

  • Lesley Aitchison, family ancestry research

Commissioning: Final Stage Development

2024-2026 TBC

Commissioning is the final stage of opera development, where the final investment is made to complete the remainder of the work.  While the project is currently in Second stage, and will be for some time, the fundraising is already in progress for Commissioning phase in order to achieve the momentum needed to continue once second stage is complete.  Tax-deductible donations to commissioning stage can be done via the donate button above and you can become part of the team bringing this art work to life.

Second Stage Development - Complete Scene & Libretto

February 2021-March 2024 - IN PROGRESS

Second Stage Development scope is large and includes development of a recording, a complete scene of the work, three programmed performances and an exhibition, a development week at HOTA, an industry showing, and libretto development.  It also includes a trip to Scotland  (est. 2023) for further research and connection with family to feed into the libretto development.  Second stage now also includes filming scope, to contribute to the parallel documentary film project, which extends the time taken to complete this work, but will enable the opera to have a much greater reach through the film medium also.


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 - COMPLETE

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 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 Mentors through Generate GC:

  • Emma Porteus

  • Liesel Zink

  • Sam Creyton

  • Anna Young

  • Sally Blackwood 

R&D period was supported by Situate and City of Gold Coast.

To go back to Projects page click here.

bottom of page