The West

Festival premiere for children s opera
Kate Miller-Heidke during rehearsals for the new opera The Rabbits. Picture: Iain Gillespie/The West Australian

Pop star Kate Miller-Heidke has returned to her first love by writing a Shaun Tan-inspired children's opera to premiere at next year's Perth International Arts Festival.

After getting The Giants as its free event in February, the festival has named The Rabbits - based on the Shaun Tan-John Marsden book - as one of its two operas. The other is an exclusive production of Madama Butterfly, first directed by Oscar-winner Anthony Minghella for the English National Opera and New York Metropolitan Opera.

Miller-Heidke will also perform in The Rabbits, produced by Perth's Barking Gecko Theatre Company and Opera Australia.

"It is something I have always wanted to do," the singer said of her first operatic composition.

"The music is quite accessible in a way that a lot of opera isn't."

The Rabbits depicts an invasion of mechanised rabbits that overwhelm the homeland of indigenous numbats.

"I fell in love with the book and the imagery," Miller-Heidke said.

"It is almost mythological and there is so much to it."

Tickets for The Rabbits and Madama Butterfly go on sale to Friends of the Festival from August 25 and to the general public on August 28.

Madama Butterfly is the only opera directed by Minghella, who won an Oscar for The English Patient and died in 2008.

The festival is committed to the $5.4 million puppet parade The Giants but is still seeking $500,000 to cover its budget.

The festival runs from February 13 to March 7.

The West Australian

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