Kate Miller-Heidke, Laly Katz, Iain Grandage – The Rabbits (2016)

Kate Miller-Heidke, Laly Katz, Iain Grandage - The Rabbits (2016)

Kate Miller-Heidke, Laly Katz, Iain Grandage – The Rabbits (2016)
Classical | MP3 CBR 320 kbps | Artworks | 01:06:22 | 161 MB
Label: ABC Classics | Release Year: 2016

2016 live adaption of the John Marsden & Shaun Tan picture book, composed by Kate Miller-Heidke & arranged by Iain Grandage with libretto by Lally Katz. Recorded Live At The Roslyn Packer Theatre, Walsh Bay. Sydney. The Rabbits is an allegorical story about Australian colonisation, and more broadly about human domination of the animal world.

After a dawn chorus of birdsong and echos sung by composer Kate Miller-Heidke as bird/narrator from the top of an ochre mound, marsupials gather, squabble and discuss a dream about a lizard, before a scientist rabbit scoops it up as a specimen. More rabbits quickly arrive with ships and aircraft, industry and alcohol. They remove the marsupials’ children and build more and more until the stage is full of their cities, at which point they wonder if it has become a bit vulgar and they have gone too far.

The work ends with a question, not a resolution, and it is a question of some urgency for us rabbits everywhere. Although the synopsis claims it is told from the viewpoint of both sides, no one, after watching it, wants to think of themselves as a rabbit, though most of us are in the colonial sense, and all of us are rapacious homo sapiens.

Its central metaphor is unfair to the long-eared hopping creatures, since although they breed true to name, they don’t create climate change and toxic waste. The score by Miller-Heidke, arranged with additional music by Iain Grandage‚Äč, has three stylistic streams: rhapsodic bird-like song for Miller-Heidke as narrator; pop-style expressiveness for the marsupials; and parody pomp for the rabbits.

These differences were smoothed out by the pervasive amplification which, for my taste, was too loud. Miller-Heidke combines the control and evenness of an operatically trained voice with the melismatic soaring of pop. Among the marsupials Hollie Andrew sang with musical-style directness, and Marcus Corowa with elemental naturalness. For the rabbits Kanen Breen adopted penetrating falsetto as the scientist and there was a sardonic Gilbert-and-Sullivan touch to Robert Mitchell’s Captain Rabbit. Christopher Hillier used natural vocal heft to characterise the Convict Rabbit.

The five-member band provided stylistically versatile and highly capable accompaniment from the back. Much of the charm lies in designer Gabriela Tylesova’s successful design adaptation for the stage of Shaun Tan and John Marsden’s original book. The marsupials hobble on their exaggerated haunches, their wide eyes weeping for nature betrayed. The rabbits strut with costumes that embody a ship’s prow, a shirtfront, and hints of Monty Python.


01. Dawn Chorus (Live)
02. Flinch’s Dream (Live)
03. The Scientist’s Contraption (Live)
04. First Encounter (Live)
05. Years Pass Transition (Live)
06. Seasick Waltz (Live)
07. Watching from Trees (Live)
08. Rabbit Utopia (Live)
09. My Sky (Live)
10. Tea & War (Live)
11. Kite Song (Live)
12. Electric Light (Live)
13. Millions (Live)
14. Where? (Live)
15. Billabong Epilogue (Live)
16. Where? (Acoustic Version)

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