States of the Art

Take yourself on an overland adventure to experience some of the country’s most creative events and exhibitions.

WORDS Patricia Maunder

Did you know Adelaide Fringe is the Southern Hemisphere’s largest arts festival? Featuring thousands of independent artists across hundreds of venues, it’s back for a month of edgy creativity until 19 March, and that’s just the start of Adelaide’s fabulous festival season. Plus Melbourne’s own cultural bonanza is a train journey away on The Overland; embrace the romance of rail – while avoiding the stress of the airport – and get onboard The Overland for an autumn arts adventure across these two cities as they host many of the most exciting events in Australia this year.

ADELAIDE – The Festival City 

The prestigious Adelaide Festival returns with its 38th program on Friday, 3 March 2023. Highlights include the Australian debut of Spain’s Escolania de Montserrat choir, which was founded in the 13th century, and Verdi’s Requiem oratorio, performed by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, 80-plus singers, and dozens of dancers.

The daring theatre-meets-screen team behind the 2022 festival triumph The Picture of Dorian Gray adapts another literary classic this year: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Books abound at the festival’s Adelaide Writers’ Week, with guests including crime novelist Alexander McCall Smith.

Art Gallery of South Australia’s Andy Warhol & Photography: A Social Media exhibition asks: was the Pop Art prince the original influencer? From 3 March – 14 May, it explores the
celebrity-filled life and work of this artist and his uncanny understanding of the power of images. The exhibition encompasses photographs, experimental films and paintings by Warhol, including his iconic Elvis and Marilyn Monroe portraits. It also features photographs by creative collaborators and contemporaries such as Robert Mapplethorpe.

Ever wondered what WOMADelaide means? This outdoor festival brings a World of Music, Arts and Dance to Adelaide from Friday, 10 March 2023. International acts include Senegalese music legend Youssou N’Dour, British indie darlings Florence + the Machine and Billy Bragg, Scottish duo The Proclaimers, and American singer-songwriter Madeleine Peyroux. This lively, life-affirming long weekend also offers local talent such as Bangarra Dance Theatre, artist-led workshops, talks, a floating, internally illuminated Earth replica, and a world of food.

Expect jolly choruses, pretty duets and tonguetwisting patter at State Opera South Australia’s G&S Fest from Thursday, 11 May 2023. This celebration of WS Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, who pioneered English comic operetta during the Victorian era, is a first outside the UK. Performances of these hits, such as H.M.S. Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance, will delight G&S fans and first-timers. Other treats include a quiz night and cathedral concert of Sullivan’s sacred music.

MELBOURNE – The Culture Capital 

Taking immersive art experiences to the next level, The Lume is a permanent space where masterpieces are transformed into dynamic, large-scale projections set to music. After launching in 2021 with a Van Gogh feast, this 3000-square-metre, four-storey gallery now presents the ongoing Monet & Friends experience. Become immersed in high-resolution digital images of paintings by 19th-century French Impressionists including Renoir and Degas, accompanied by musical peers such as Ravel and Debussy. There are also themed spaces to create sensational selfies.

Enhancing its reputation for blockbuster fashion exhibitions, the National Gallery of Victoria is currently celebrating a contemporary style luminary. Continuing until Sunday, 16 April 2023, Alexander McQueen: Mind, Mythos, Muse presents more than 120 garments and accessories by the late British couturier. Highlights include examples from his 2006-07 Widows of Culloden collection as well as 80-plus artworks that reveal this designer’s diverse inspirations.

The ballet adapted from Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote was first performed in Moscow in 1869. A century later, The Australian Ballet, together with superstar dancers Rudolf Nureyev and Robert Helpmann, created a groundbreaking film of this dance classic. Now, to launch its 60th anniversary season, the company reinterprets this significant chapter in its history. Presented on Wednesday, 15 March 2023, The Australian Ballet’s new production of Don Quixote takes design cues from the 1973 film’s sumptuous sets and costumes. It’s classical ballet perfection meets Spanish-inspired colour, music, energy and romance.

On Wednesday, 29 March 2023, one of the world’s largest comedy festivals delivers its largest line-up since COVID. As always, locals such as Wil Anderson, Kitty Flanagan and Dave Hughes will gather for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, while international funny folks return in force. They include favourites such as PhilWang, Urzila Carlson and David O’Doherty, and newcomer Jordan Gray. Big events such as The Gala and 33rd Annual Great Debate are the rib-tickling icing on this cake.

Thirty million people in 30-plus countries have seen The Rocky Horror Show, which turns 50 this year. To celebrate, an all-new production of this fun, freaky rock ‘n’ roll musical is in Melbourne on Thursday, 18 May 2023. Jason Donovan plays cross-dressing mad scientist Dr Frank N Furter, alongside Spicks and Specks’ Myf Warhurst as The Narrator, and a cast whose CVs include Hamilton and School of Rock. Looking for more big shows? Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Mary Poppins are on now.

Melbourne and Adelaide were fully connected by rail in 1887 when the Intercolonial Express overnight service began. Today, The Overland is a comfortable full day journey offering two types of service: Red Service and Red Premium, both including generous leg room an luggage allowance (perfect for those who like to shop), reclining seats, and access to the onboard cafe. Red Premium is inclusive of breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, starting from $230 per person. The Overland departs Adelaide on Sunday and Thursday each week and Monday and Friday from Melbourne. Book your trip on the Overland below.