The Howling Girls

Sydney Chamber Opera

“A remarkable tour-de-force”

Sydney Morning Herald

In the weeks following September 11, five young women presented separately to hospitals in New York with identical symptoms. They were unable to swallow and believed that debris from the destruction had lodged in their throats.

The surgeon who examined them found no obstruction. This haunting image became the seed for Sydney Chamber Opera’s The Howling Girls.

Created by director Adena Jacobs, composer Damien Ricketson and soprano Jane Sheldon, The Howling Girls explores the medium and metaphor of the voice. Featuring a solitary soprano and a throbbing chorus of young voices, together with an immersive orchestration of theremin, keyboards and electroacoustic music, the score is a kind of proto-language, an attempt to communicate in a mode beyond the rational: a sensory spectacle to bypass the brain and work directly on the body.

A sublime aural and perceptual encounter.

We hear her. We hear them all. Now, the voices are different. Now, they move beyond constraints and into creation. Now the sounds belong to the women who howl, and they are in control of it.

A drum beats. The women chant, move forward, elevate Sheldon’s cry with percussion and movement and their own haunting voices.

Maybe the women have forged a new way of speaking. Maybe they will never be silent again.
Cassie Tongue, Witness Performance


Adena Jacobs

Damien Ricketson

Musical Director
Jack Symonds


Set & Costume Design
Eugyeene Teh

Lighting Design
Jenny Hector

Sound Design
Bob Scott

Performed by
Jane Sheldon and teenagers from The House that Dan Built: Grace Campbell, Kittu Hoyne, Kiri Jenssen, Emily Pincock, Jayden Selvakumaraswamy & Sylvie Woodhouse.

Sydney Chamber Opera’s
The Howling Girls
by Adena Jacobs and Damien Ricketson

Produced by Performing Lines

Information for Presenters

This production is available for Australian and international presentation now.

Vanessa Wright Senior Producer

Presentation History

Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre at Tokyo Festival
Tokyo, Japan
View full Presentation History

Full Presentation History for The Howling Girls

Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre at Tokyo Festival
Tokyo, Japan
Sydney, NSW

Project Partners & Acknowledgements

Sydney Chamber Opera’s The Howling Girls by Adena Jacobs & Damien Ricketson is produced by Performing Lines and supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body; and the NSW Government through Create NSW. This production was originally produced by Sydney Chamber Opera and Carriageworks.

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