Spotlight on the 1940s

November 9, 2022 BY

State Opera & Limestone Coast Symphony Orchestra strings combine in a performance to remember


State Opera South Australia is headed for the Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre and the performance will be enhanced by a performance from the strong section of the Limestone Coast Symphony Orchestra.

The State Opera has announced the return of ‘the honeymoon killers’ in a two- month national tour of the hugely popular opera, Love Burns, which will include performances in regional South Australia, including Mount Gambier on November 22.

The storyline is based on the 1940s true crime American serial killer couple ‘the honeymoon killers,’ and delivers mischievous comedy with masterful musicality. For anyone looking for a dash of true crime with their opera this one is for you.

The main protagonist, Jack, is a con and a ladies’ man, feigning love to steal money from lonely widows. Angela, initially one of his victims, pairs up and assists him in his deception. She loves the con, but not the ladies, and when jealousy sets in, she persuades Jack to kill his victims. Critics and audiences alike have responded with delight to the unique voice that is Australian opera in all its intimate, grand, and quirky forms and even brings waltz and tango to the stage.

Country Arts SA’s chief executive/executive director Anthony Peluso said they were looking forward to working with State Opera to take this hilarious romp to regional SA.

“This is opera dashed with the sardonic Aussie treatment and we know it is going to be a great night out. Don’t miss it,” he said. The other performance not to be missed is the Limestone Coast Symphony Orchestra, who will be playing pre-show in the theatre courtyard.

The orchestra calls the Mount Gambier theatre home and orchestra secretary Jennie Matthews said as part of its arrangement as resident orchestra it was to provide entertainment on a couple of other occasions outside of its traditional mid year season.

In the end, the State Opera visit proved to be the perfect fit for one of those supplementary performances.


“Once our second term season finished the string players, especially the three or four new players were very keen to keep playing,” Jennie said.

That saw the orchestra contact Kathy Foster, who has typically been the string section leader but been absent for the 2022 season, and she was as keen as anyone to keep rehearsals going.

That saw 12 players looking to keep the music going and after a discussion with theatre manager Frank Morello the State Opera visit loomed as the best opportunity.

Next came the search for a new repertoire and the obvious choice was to find music from the time period of the Love Burn production – the 1930s and 1940s.

“I think we’ve come up with a nice bunch of music including George Gershwin, Scott Joplin, Leroy Anderson and Henry Mancini as well as a few other ragtime composers that people would not be as familiar with,” Jennie said.

A local connection will also see a performance of some Tom King and Jack Fewster work – two of the most respected and popular composers on the Adelaide scene at the same time period.

“One of our cellists, Sarah Fewster, who is a Millicent music teacher – her husband Andrew Fewster is from Adelaide and Jack Fewster is his great uncle,” Jennie said. “Jack (Fewster) and Tom King used to write for stage musicals and Sarah has been able to provide us with a couple of their pieces. We will be applying two songs that Sarah has re-arranged to suit a double string quartet.:

The string section has been rehearsing on Thursday nights and Saturday afternoons at Maryke Dance Studio.

Jennie, who was a key part of the founding of the Limestone Coast Symphony Orchestra, said keeping the string section together during the ‘off’ season and hopefully promoting the opportunities for string players would see more players put their hand up for the 2023 season.

“We do need more string players – that is the area where we need more depth,” she said.

Trish Bruggemann, who is an integral part of the orchestra and the music director for the Mount Gambier Brass Band, has also agreed to conduct the Limestone.

“We will keep our mid year performances under Angus (Christie) as they have always been and Trish will look to put together a totally different, more contemporary, popular repertoire.”


(with pre-show by Limestone Coast Symphony Orchestra) Sir Robert Helpmann

Mount Gambier November 22 – 7.30pm