avaTara the opera – company BIOs

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, COMPOSER/ LIBRETTIST PERFORMER – EMMA O’BRIEN specializes in collaborative projects as a composer. Her CD and Theatre Production experience includes CD- Life – Sounding the Soul -1998 at SBS studios, CD – Living Soul -2003 Triple CD (both CD project of songs written with people with cancer and featured in the media and played on ABC radio. Emma was the composer and animateur and producer for a Chorus of Women- April-June 2005 a theatre production written with and performed by 10 women all whom have Breast cancer. Most recently she has been supported by philanthropist Ms Betty Amsden in developing AVATARA and she has also composed soundtracks to two documentary films: Young Women Talking, which was nominated for an ATOM Media award in 2007 and Rachel- A Perfect Life, an independent film which screened at the Sydney International Film Festival. She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne (2008-2011) examining specialized collaborative song writing with people with cancer. Emma specializes in music therapy at the Royal Melbourne Hospital where her PhD research is being conducted. As a performer Emma has premiered works by well known Australian composers David Chesworth (Sabat Jesus), Brenton Broadstock and Stuart  Greenbaum.

DIRECTOR – ROBERT DRAFFIN has a body of artistic work spanning 36 years. He has directed 66 theatre productions. He is a recipient fellowship from The Australia Council of the Arts to research the interchange between traditional and Contemporary Arts Practice in Asia and the West. He worked with mainstream theatre companies (eg Playbox Theatre Melbourne), but primarily he works in alternative and experimental theatre, focusing on theatre research and training practices. Artistic Director of Theatreworks (Melbourne) from 1990-95 and Associate Director of Calculated Risks Opera Company 1997-98. Festivals where his work have appeared: Melbourne International Festival 1993, Canberra Australian Theatre Festival 1991, Nagoya World Park Festival 1995 (Japan), Sparks Festival 2004 (Esplanade Festival Centre Singapore), Brisbane Arts Festival 1998, Melbourne Fringe 1994, Adelaide Fringe 1989/2000 and Castlemaine Theatre Festival 1996. Currently he is Co-director Liminal Theatre and Performance with Mary Sitarenos.


Anne Frankenberg is an Arts Management Consultant working with a range of clients including the Australian National Academy of Music and various performing arts producers. Anne trained initially as a clarinettist, attending the University of Melbourne Faculty of Music and the Victorian College of the Arts, and has an Executive MBA. She started her career with the Victoria State Opera, becoming Company Manager in 1995, and continued in this role for Opera Australia. With Opera Australia, she also managed the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra and OzOpera, its national touring arm. From 2006 to 2008 Anne was inaugural General Manager of Victorian Opera, the Victorian professional opera company.


Nic has worked extensively as a double bass player for the MSO, OZ Opera and Victorian Opera. He also works as music therapy research executive at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

VIDEOGRAPHER – IVANKA SOKOL has acted and performed as visual artist for over 20 years. She has worked as an  artist with Liminal Theatre and Performance since 2003 with whom she performed and created moving image for Oedipus, Poetic Requiem at the 2008 Melbourne fringe festival and was a recipient of a green room award (AV) for their production of The Damask Drum in 2007. At the end of 2008 she completed a two year ARC project as visual documenter and editor on Vocal Empowerment: Researching the Effects of Actor Vocal Training on Young Adults with Cochlear Implants and Hearing Aids for research partners, VCA Drama, The Dept. of Otolaryngology, University of Melbourne and Cochlear Ltd. Ivanka’s collaboration with visual artist, Lynette Wallworth on Unheard Voices: Invisible by Night, commissioned by Experiment for the 2004 Melbourne Arts Festival, was recently exhibited at Aix en Provence Festival, France 2008; The Lincoln Centre, NY 2008. She acted as assistant on L.W internationally acclaimed installation, Evollution of fearlessness, seen at the 2008 Melbourne Festival.

DESIGNER – INA INDIRA SHANAHAN is a designer/director/hybrid artist whose works spans over a number of art forms and mediums. Her career in Australia began as millinery supervisor for the Victoria State Opera and the Melbourne Theatre Company (1988-97). In 1991 her work was exhibited at the National Gallery of Victoria. She has designed sets and costumes for stage, film and television and has worked as a performance maker and collaborator. Her design approach involves the use of multimedia and/or projection, and work in non-theatrical spaces. She holds an Honours degree in Performance and Multimedia from Victoria University (2004).

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