Going Into Shadows (2001)

“Australian composer Andrew Schultz and his sister, librettist Julianne Schultz, have written a powerful modern drama that is both sharp, thought-provoking and relevant…. The composition is very carefully crafted to provide just the right mix of dramatic intensity to underscore the work and lead us to the next part of the story. This is as fine a piece of modern composition as you could wish to hear, not only written well for the voice but with strong and well-scored orchestration – lush and lyrical string sounds, a haunting wind section and some powerful brass and percussion as the story unfolds.” [Suzannah Conway, “Classical Terror,” The Courier Mail, 11 September 2001]

“Going Into Shadows is full of musical and dramatic effects: on-stage string quartet and violin/viola/honkytonk trio, off-stage chorus. Novel clarinet and trombone writing, a fully choreographed chorus, live/recorded video projected onto fabric – the list goes on…. The London premiere was fascinating. The many effects and colours in the piece are used brilliantly to highlight the psychological motivation and the cultural background of the characters. The audience very clearly identified with the plot and the themes of betrayal raised in the story, and they responded well to the lush but contemporary harmony. . . . a fine new addition to the operatic repertoire.” [Dominic Sewell, “Shadow Play”, Opera Now, Sept/Oct 2001]

“Pedal tones anchor each scene and setting, and the ravishing orchestration is suffused more with modal fear than minimalist sumptuousness…Festival directors and opera impresarios should be clamouring to see it.” [Vincent Plush, The Australian, 14 September 2001]

“The future for opera is in productions such as Andrew Schultz’s Going Into Shadows. This is what the world is about, rightly or wrongly. The 19th and 18th century operas will never disappear because people like good tunes, but we need a genre of our own country of our own time.” [James Christiansen, “Out on a bold note”, The Courier Mail, 2 October 2001]

“For as long as I live I will not forget the second performance of Andrew Schultz and his sister Julianne’s Going into Shadows. The memory of sitting through three hours of this incisive essay centred on the way terrorism affects lives and then arriving home to the telecast of the horrendous attack on the World Trade Centre towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington will never fade. Somehow it gave the artistic experience of the preceding three hours a terrifying relevance and added an alarming depth to the many layers Schultz worked into his opera. He could never have foreseen the confluence of his art with reality in such a graphic, trenchant way. Can the world be the same again? Can his work of art return to its past tense innocence? I don’t think so. You don’t come from the theatre humming tunes, but you do come out shaken by the opera’s confronting concepts. There is so much to the music, the text, the themes and the multi-media techniques employed, that it is almost impossible to absorb it all at one sitting….life is not always just froth and bubble and great art, which I believe this opera is, reflects and drives home some tough human truths.” [Patricia Kelly, “Opera in Review – Brisbane,” Opera-Opera, October 2001, 286.17]

“The Australian-British collaboration involves students from the Queensland Conservatorium in Brisbane: Australian singers and instrumentalists are over for the London performances this month, while Guildhall students will reciprocate by taking part in performances in Brisbane in September.

Another antipodean element is the opera’s composer, Andrew Schultz, who hails from Adelaide. Head of composition and music studies at the Guildhall, he has written Going into Shadows with his librettist (and sister) Julianne Schultz. Schultz, who has an extensive compositional career under his belt, is pleased that he had no need to compromise his idiom because he was writing for students. “I have written what I wanted to write.” He says. “The quality of the students on the opera course is fantastic. The chorus already seems on a par with a professional chorus. I didn’t see this as a student work, I saw it as a work that happened to be performed by students. They are relatively inexperienced, but they have great voices and a great deal of enthusiasm.”

The plot of Going into Shadows combines terrorism, idealism, betrayal and the sometimes unhelpful role of the media, which is explored in the opera using live and prerecorded video supplied by students from the National Film and Television School. One of the chief characters is the sinister journalist Jack Johns, who tempts a young woman into denouncing her terrorist fiancé by promising a large sum of money.

Julianne Schultz, herself a journalist and academic, has had plenty of opportunity to observe the seamier side of journalism, as she outlines in a booklet prepared for the production. “With chequebooks waiting, contracts ready to sign, the lure of fame and fortune neatly wrapped in a package of the public’s right to know, journalists descend on the unwitting victims of random acts of violence, fortune or survival. Having spent most of my professional life in the media. I am sympathetic to the professional values that Jack holds dear. But I, like an increasing number of my colleagues, recognize their limits and am dismayed by the costs. Would the story have been different if money did not change hands? Did the deception distort the story? The media’s distortion of notions of belief and belonging is central to our times and an important sub-theme of this work.”

Whatever its impact on the wider community, the most immediate effect of Going into Shadows, will be on those students actually involved in staging the opera. One such is Barry Martin, from Trinidad, who ended up on Guildhalls opera course by change when he came to London to earn money to study in Holland. Martin is one of several final-year opera studies students taking a lead role. With a job lined up at the English National Opera in the autumn, he is grateful for the experience of taking part in what will be his fourth Guildhall opera. “The rehearsal period mirrors exactly what you would experience on the outside, at an opera company.” He says. “The directors are from outside, people who do productions with big opera companies, and sometimes the conductors also. We get the same type of treatment we would get if we were professional.”

Sarah Redgwick, who recently won the Guildhall Gold Medal for singers, will sing the role of Jasmine, the daughter of Tarik the terrorist and his susceptible fiancé Bernadette, who after her mother’s death in a car crash attempts to wreak a horrible revenge on her father. “In the past I’ve done a lot of comedy and innocent characters,” she says, “so to have a scheming, bitter character to play is very different dramatically.”

Singing the role of Bernadette is Katarina Jovanovic, who left her native Serbia after the Nato bombing of Belgrade in 1999. “I had a choice between La Scala in Milan, the Paris Opera and Guildhall,” she says. “I wanted something organized and well run, completely different from my own culture. Guildhall, people say, is the best opera course in the world right now.”‘

[Christopher Wood, “A multicultural message in a terrorist guise,” The Times Higher, 1 June 2001)]

Read press and reviews from performances in London and Brisbane.

“Lonely voices, mass media and Andrew Schultz’s Going into Shadows” – Dalya M. Crispin

“Of the terrible devastation which is being wrought by the printing press it is still not possible today to have any conception. The airship is invented and the imagination crawls along like a stage-coach. Automobile, telephone and the mass discrimination of stupidity – who can say what the brains of the next generation will be like?”

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“Evolution and Travel” – Martin Buzacott

“Tracking down Andrew Schultz for an interview can be a trans-global affair – as I discovered not long ago when writing a profile on him for Australia’s 24 Hours music magazine. I first made contact with the composer when he was in Australia attending some performances of his music. Shortly afterwards he was in America on business, I made further contact with him when he arrived home in London. That was the week before he went down to the south of France.”

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