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Waikato University Composer Gets Sargeson Rights

2 Nov 2004

Waikato University Composer Gets Sargeson Rights

Waikato University opera composer David Griffiths has been given permission by the estate of New Zealand writer Frank Sargeson to produce three short operas based on three of Sargeson's stories.

They Gave Her a Raise, Two Worlds and A Great Day all deal with the "darker sides of human nature", says David, a music lecturer, who will be working on the operas over summer.

Earlier this year, David's new opera The Woman From Moab was staged at Waikato University in collaboration with director John Davies, an ex-Red Mole stalwart who is now a theatre studies lecturer, and the Wel Energy Trust Academy of Performing Arts technical manager Michael Knapp, who has considerable operatic experience in NZ and Australia.

David and John now want to develop the university's reputation as a centre of operatic excellence, and will be looking to produce the Sargeson operas next year. They are particularly keen to develop an authentic, indigenous expression of New Zealand, using our own stories to reflect this.

David's interest in Sargeson began in his boyhood in Takapuna, Auckland, where the unconventional writer was a frequent sight on the streets. He later purchased one of his books and was struck by the way he dealt with everyday situations in an extraordinary way. "He unmasks a lot of what goes on behind the surface of everyday life."


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