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The Rabbits

based on the book by John Marsden and Shaun Tan Composed by Kate Miller-Heidke, Libretto by Lally Katz, Adapted & Directed by John Sheedy

60 minutes (no interval)

Suitable for ages 8+

In this extraordinary production, John Marsden and Shaun Tan’s compelling picture-book The Rabbits is brought to life as a new work of operatic theatre for adults and children alike. This is a story of hope in the face of colonisation, displacement and despair. While the world in The Rabbits is imaginary, its parallels with our own are eerily recognisable, causing us to question the constructs of modern life: society, culture, environment … the essence of humanity.

The Rabbits brings together an exceptional Australian creative team. Award-winning vocalist Kate Miller-Heidke leads a cast of singers and musicians, performing her own compositions and Lally Katz’s enchanting libretto, with additional music from Iain Grandage.

This project was assisted by the Australian Government’s Major Festivals Initiative, managed by the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, in association with the Confederation of Australian International Arts Festivals, Perth International Arts Festival and Melbourne Festival; and the Western Australian Government through the Department of Culture and the Arts. The Rabbits, written by John Marsden and illustrated by Shaun Tan, was first published in Australia by Lothian Books and this opera is produced by arrangement with Hachette Australia Pty Ltd.

A Barking Gecko Theatre and Opera Australia Co-Production in association with the West Australian Opera commissioned by Perth Festival and Melbourne Festival. The Rabbits premiered in 2015 in Perth, and has had subsequent seasons in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.


There are currently no performances of this show at this time.

Michael Shmith, Melbourne Festival

The Rabbits show the ears have it

This evocative and moving adaptation by composer Kate Miller-Heidke and librettist Lally Katz is at once transformative and respectful of its source: a work that runs for just over an hour, but one which encapsulates our Indigenous and colonial history with adroitness, quirkiness, charm and darkness where it is due. Full review ▶

Published 11/10/2015

The Helpmann Awards

The Rabbits Scoops Four At The Helpmann Awards

Barking Gecko Theatre Company’s co-production with Opera Australia, The Rabbits, scooped four awards at last night’s Helpmann Awards: A clean sweep of all the categories in which it was nominated.
▶ Best New Australian Work – Barking Gecko Theatre Company and Opera Australia The Rabbits
▶ Best Presentation for Children – Barking Gecko Theatre Company and Opera Australia The Rabbits
▶ Best Costume Design – Gabriella Tylesova The Rabbits
▶ Best Original Score – Kate Miler – Heidke with Iain Grandage The Rabbits

Published 28/07/2015

Michael Halliwell, Associate Professor of Vocal Studies and Opera, University of Sydney

A genre-hopping triumph: The Rabbits

What is opera? This is a question that has engaged puzzled commentators and practitioners since the well-documented origins of the art form in the late 16th century. Full review ▶

Published 06/10/2015

Paul Selar, opera critic, Herald Sun

Opera review: The Rabbits, Melbourne Festival

OPERA purists and newcomers of all ages will be moved by The Rabbits, a co-production between Opera Australia and Barking Gecko Theatre Company. Full review ▶

Published 12/10/2015

Play Details

Based on the book written by John Marsden and illustrated by Shaun Tan

Composer Kate Miller-Heidke
Libretto Lally Katz
Adapted and directed John Sheedy
Musical director, musical arrangements and additional music Iain Grandage
Designer Gabriela Tylesova

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