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libretto by Cynthia Troup

scored for soprano and actress, with vintage microphones and objects, electronic pocket piano, amplified vintage electric fans, samples and live mix

commissioned by Chamber Made Opera, Melbourne, and first performed by Deborah Kayser and Anneli Bjorasen, directed by David Young, 3rd October 2013

An immersive chamber opera set on an early commercial passenger flight, boarded by a mother (soprano) and her 19-year-old daughter (actress). A sustained dream-/sky-scape very precisely composed of vocal, electronic, melodic and other often ambiguous fragments, referencing the history of imprecise radio technology and in-flight broadcasts under turbulent stress.

In 2015, the Danish Ministry of Equality in collaboration with the Danish Arts Agency and Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts commissioned a film version of TURBULENCE for online presentation. Artist Peter Humble created the visuals.


"The piece starts with discombobulating minimalism. ... Juliana Hodkinson's composition is unusual, full of tremulous glissando and non-standard vocal technique against a synthesised score and a libretto (Cynthia Troup) using the metaphor of aeroplane flight to explore the subliminal eddies that underlie the mother/daughter relationship. ... Turbulence distils private poetry and sonic fascination from that insight."

- Sydney Morning Herald

"It’s not hard to believe that we the audience are sitting inside an aeroplane which is about to experience (you guessed it) turbulence. Having said that, this is not a simulated flight ‘reality’ kind of theatre show. It’s actually incredibly abstract and at times quite bewildering. To briefly describe it for you, the audience of about 25 people is led up some stairs and into the living room and seated in tight rows by a group of what look like flight attendants. We’re given hot towels and then a series of small fans start whirring (all miked up) and the amplified sound they make as they power up is just like a plane taking off. Then there’s an ongoing loud rumble of noise. Eventually I realised that someone seated in the front row was making strange noises; she was one of the performers, the singer Deborah Kayser. Her clicks and hisses and growls eventually turn into musical notes and eventually into sung text. Then another performer stands up from amongst the audience, the actor Anneli Bjorasen. She begins speaking lines of poetic text in dialogue with Deborah Kayser’s sung text. There are also sound effects in the mix, including the sound of a fretful baby, snippets of radio broadcasts in foreign languages, and snippets of other music, so it all combines into a dense multi-layered and engaging soundscape. But it is all very abstract. You have to give up looking for a clear narrative or expecting something to ‘happen’ or waiting for everything to suddenly ‘make sense’, and instead just sit back and enjoy the ride (pardon the pun). Towards the end of the performance there’s a loud bang and some smoke effects. The work could almost be described as performance art, it is so still most of the time. Towards the end of ‘Turbulence’ there is a ‘duet’ between Deborah and a pre-recorded electronic keyboard melody and it’s quite mesmerising. The text of the libretto is printed in the program and it is wonderfully poetic, all about giving birth and experiencing motherhood and the love of a child, but you may struggle to hear it in the space."

- Culture Club