It is easy to think of tonight's world première of Bliss as a sort of finishing line now crossed. For ten years the opera has been inching its way toward this very point, and now, at last, here it is. Mission accomplished. Except not. The gestation might be over with, but that's only one phase of existence anyway. Now this fascinating operatic baby has been born, and what we have is not an end, but a beginning.
And as beginnings go, this was an auspicious one. Brett Dean's first opera is rich, complex, mesmerising, intriguing and downright beautiful. (Conventional and unconventional beauty shoulder to shoulder.) The creative forces assembled to bring it to life all live up to their formidable reputations. Artistry, bravery, imagination, affection and wit abound.
Is it fully formed and perfectly polished yet? No. Is that a problem? Absolutely not. It's a privilege for us to see that formation happen before our eyes — to watch our newborn opera take its first steps and carve out its own very special life. Bliss as it was tonight was a strong and beautiful thing; the Bliss which will grow through this season, and another, and another, and so on and so on, will be stronger and more beautiful still. I've booked for every Sydney performance, and I can't wait to see where this season goes, and where it takes me.
As for the specifics of tonight's performance, well, now is not the time. They'll come, thick, fast and florid, both here and in my published reviews. All I'll say right now, because it cannot go another minute unsaid, is that Peter Coleman-Wright has achieved — is achieving — something extraordinary as Harry Joy. He is the mad, virtuosic, yet disarmingly self-effacing centre of everything, and his voice and presence are just as luminous as his white suits.
It's been tweeted so often that maybe it's lost its lustre, but after tonight, it holds truer than ever. Do not miss Bliss.