ABC set to sing with TV opera, The Divorce.

Lisa McCune, Marina Prior, Hugh Sheridan & John O’May will feature in a comedic opera -made for television & film.


And now for something completely different…

Filming is about to begin in Melbourne on The Divorce, a contemporary, comedic multi-platform project that re-invents opera for television, film and online.

Set to be filmed as both a TV series and feature film, it stars Lisa McCune, Marina Prior, Hugh Sheridan, Kate Miller-Heidke, John O’May, Matthew McFarlane, Melissa Madden-Gray and Peter Cousens.

Described as a humorous, witty and musically rich ‘soap opera’ exploring the universal themes of love, passion, regret, greed and longing, it sees wealthy couple Iris (Marina Prior) and Jed (John O’May), happily getting a divorce and throwing an elaborate party. But by the end of the evening, Iris and Jed’s divorce has triggered a renegotiation of all certainties and the characters are set on an unanticipated course.

Originally commissioned by The Opera Conference, the music is by composer Elena Kats-Chernin and the libretto by playwright Joanna Murray-Smith. Dean Murphy (Cliffy, Strange Bedfellows) will direct with cinematography by Roger Lanser (Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries), as a collaboration between ABC TV Arts, Opera Australia and Princess Pictures.


“This unique project underlines the ABC’s commitment to high-quality, prime-time arts entertainment. ABC Arts is delighted to partner with Princess Pictures and Opera Australia on this wonderful show.” says ABC Executive Producer Christopher Gist.

Princess Pictures Producer Andrea Denholm says “Luscious, light-hearted and over-flowing with talent and glorious music, we look forward to bringing this daring production to screen audiences, opera devotees, lovers of music and comedy and the curious.”

Opera Australia Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini added, “On behalf of Opera Australia and our Opera Conference partners, we are thrilled after several years of development to see The Divorce push the boundaries of the opera art form via the screen. We have assembled a magnificent cast supported by the musical and vocal expertise of the Australian Opera Ballet Orchestra and Opera Australia Chorus.”

Filming of both the four-part series and feature length version starts Wednesday 8th July. The series will air later this year on ABC TV.

Production Credits: A Princess Pictures Production in association with Opera Australia for ABC TV. Composed by Elena Kats-Chernin. Written by Joanna Murray-Smith. Based on an original idea by Lyndon Terracini. Director Dean Murphy. Producer Andrea Denholm. ABC Executive Producer Christopher Gist. ABC Acting Head of Arts Mandy Chang. Financed with the assistance of The Opera Conference, Screen Australia and Film Victoria. The Opera Conference partners are Opera Australia, the State Opera of South Australia, Opera Queensland and the West Australian Opera.

4 Responses

  1. Ok so I don’t know what they are thinking because only a small demographic of people like musicals. But have you also noticed now ABC are making stuff for online first with experienced producers such as Princess Pictures going for the multiplatform funding through Screen Australia and other bodies but still showing them on TV which sort of cheats the system of getting the proper funding? There are people out there with great web series ideas that would love it for that reason but ABC has found a loop hole.

    1. Yeah, like the “small demographic” who paid to see movies like Les Miserables, Into The Woods and Pitch Perfect (1 and 2) – all among the most profitable movies of recent years, here and abroad. The most profitable theatrical ventures in Australia are all musicals too. So not really what you’d call a small demographic.

      In any case, it’s part of the ABC’s charter to cover areas of the arts not covered by commercial networks. It’s exactly the kind of thing they should be doing. And in recent years they haven’t done nearly enough.

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