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Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise
(That last infirmity of noble mind)
To scorn delights, and live laborious days;
But the fair guerdon when we hope to find,
And think to burst out into sudden blaze,
Comes the blind Fury with th'abhorréd shears,
And slits the thin-spun life.

       John Milton: Lycidas  (1637)



Lawrence Hargrave: Sam Roberts-Smith

Margret Hargrave: Caroline Vercoe

Olive Hargrave: Lisette Bolton

Meg Hargrave : Shakira Dugan

Young Hargrave: Cameron Sibly

Luigi D'Albertis: Cameron Taylor


Director: Lara Kerestes

Conductor: Pat Miller

Set Design & Construction: Tom Petty

Lighting Design: Richard Vabre

Costume Design: Nathan Burmeister

Stage Manager: Will Barker

Executive Producer: Suzanne Chaundy

Original Design Concept: Zunica



Flute, Alto Flute & Piccolo: Kim Tan

Clarinet & Bass Clarinet: Cameron Smith

Piano, Celesta & Harpsichord: Jane Matheson*

Harp: Sam Ramirez

Percussion: Lara Wilson

Keyboard 1: Louis Nicoll*

Keyboard 2:  James Dekleva

Violin: Felicité Heine

Double Bass: Rob Nicholls



Composer:  Barry Conyngham

Librettist:  Murray Copland

Commissioned by:  Victorian State Opera

Premiered:  August 25th, State Theatre Melbourne

Director: Murray Copland

Conductor: John Hopkins

Designer: Shaun Gurton

Stage Manager: Ann Reid

See the full 1984 Program here






Sun Aug 25 - 5:00pm - SOLD OUT

Tue Aug 27 - 7:30pm

Thu Aug 29 - 7:30pm

Sat Aug 31 - 7:30pm

Sun Sep 1 - 5:00pm

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Hargrave flying his box kites on the beach.

Act 1:

Sydney, Australia. 1904.

At their home in Woollahra, Meg and her mother Margret eagerly examine the latest newspapers from London while Olive watches their brother Geoffrey sailing on the Harbour. Margret recalls the trials and tribulations of her husband's career as Meg discovers the news of man's first successful flight.

Hargrave, recovering from fever, emerges to celebrate the successful end to Geoffrey's race only to be confronted by his wife with the news from London.  

The doorbell announces the delivery of Mrs Hargrave's new hat. Its featured Bird of Paradise feathers cause Hargrave to recall his expedition to New Guinea some 30 years previously. The fun and games soon devolve into a fierce confrontation between husband and wife.



On the beach in Sydney, Olive and Meg Hargrave watch their father, Lawrence Hargrave fly one of his experimental kites.

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Lawrence and Margret Hargrave.

Act 2, Scene 1:


Fly River, New Guinea. 1876.

30 years earlier  Hargrave is on board the steamer Neva as part of the Italian aristocrat Luigi D'Albertis' expedition up the Fly River in New Guinea.

D'Albertis, who is recovering from fever, questions Hargrave about his drawings and designs, before asserting his authority as leader of the expedition.


Hargrave berates  D'Albertis' for his destructive methods of exploration before the Italian in turn humiliates Hargrave for his humanitarian views.

Hargrave vows to renounce all personal fame or fortune.

Luigi D'Albertis and his 1876 expedition.

Act 2, Scene 2.


Sydney, Australia. 1915.

News has just reached Woollahra of the landings at Gallipoli. Mrs Hargrave explains to Meg that her father is now regarded as a traitor because the only museum willing to utilise his lifetime of aeronautical research was German.

She shares her concern for her husband's failing health but also the comfort brought by the assistance of  Geoffrey, now himself a promising engineer. 

The doorbell announces the arrival of a clergyman bringing news from Gallipoli. 

Hargrave returns to his workshop.


Geoffrey Hargrave, 1915.

Duration: 80 minutes, without interval.

Pre and post-show dinner can be found upstairs at Cumulus  Inc. or pop into Cumulus Up for a drink.



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Thank you to our major supporters:

Hans and Petra Henkell

Robert Saltzer Foundation

Zeleian Corporation

Siobhan Kelly

Thank you to all those who supported this production of FLY through our Australian Cultural Fund Campaign:

Joseph Bertolini

Colin and Elizabeth Gomm

Roxane Hislop

Rebecca Rasheligh

Jian Gao

Susan Molony

Tiffany Speight

Paul Selar

Miki Oikawa

Thank you to all those who supported the Fly Development  program through the Australian Cultural Fund:

Bernard Lokman

Chris Mier

Adrian Kennedy

Graham Ford

Ashlea Hawkins

Peter Hourigan

Ben Kerswill

Miki Oikawa

Judith Giddings

Fiona Connan

Stella Minihan

Bruce Sims

Pamela Lloyd

Trevor Dymand

Barbara Pesel

Joseph Bertolini

Robert Lee

Matthew and Joanne Angus

Kim Tan

Kristina Macrae


Our personal and sincere thanks to all those whose assistance made this production possible.

Delia Spicer, Tia Clarke, Malthouse Theatre

Barry and Deborah Conyngham

Shane Grant and the team at St Martin's Youth Theatre

Mary-Lou, Andy , Katy and all the team at fortyfivedownstairs

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