Little Edward is captivated for a sublime moment by the magic of a travelling carnival. The real world forever after seems to disappoint him. As an adult, he escapes into his enchanting imaginary ‘Gromboolian Plain’, populated by beings with luminous noses, hysterical ears and impossible adventures.

This world premiere family opera celebrates the life and work of Edward Lear (1812 – 1888). Best remembered for his lyrical, romantic whimsy ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’, Lear actually hoped the world might love him better for his serious landscape paintings.

Ode to Nonsense sails cheeriously along with runcible spoons, fizzgigious fish and gosky patties, and delves into Lear’s inner conflicts. On his return from exotic travels with manservant Giorgio, Lear is reunited with his lifelong, unconfessed love Gussie.

Performed in a lushly-designed ’Gromboolian Plain’ by three principals, a children’s chorus, acrobats and a chamber orchestra.

Behind the scenes highlights

Meet the creative team

Andy Packer

Artistic Director

Andy co-founded Slingsby Theatre Company as Artistic Director. In ten years Slingsby has toured its original productions to 70 venues in 44 cities all over Australia and the world.

Since completing a BA of Theatre Studies at Adelaide University in 1992, Andy’s arts career has encompassed many roles including Creative Producer, ensemble Actor/Creator and Festival Director. In 2007 Andy co-founded Slingsby Theatre Company as Artistic Director. In ten years Slingsby has toured its original productions to 70 venues in 44 cities and towns across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, USA, Canada, UK, Scotland, Spain, Ireland and Norway, winning 14 industry awards along the way.

Alongside Slingsby, Andy has built a freelance career as a Director of opera, musical theatre, cabaret and concerts. Most recently Andy directed Vigil, written by Steve Vizard and Joe Chindamo and starring Christie Whelan-Browne for Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2017 (4.5 stars, Limelight). Andy has Directed for State Theatre Company of South Australia, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, State Opera of South Australia, Adelaide Fringe, Adelaide Festival of Arts and Adelaide Chamber Singers. Andy is respected nationally and internationally for creating moments of human intimacy and emotional truth in both intimate one hander productions and in large operatic and orchestral scale works, for child, family and adult audiences.

In January 2016 Andy became the first Australian to join the Board of Management of Philadelphia-based IPAY (International Performing Arts for Youth).

Andy and his wife Jane love living in Adelaide with their three school-age sons and retired greyhound.

Geoff Cobham

Artstic Associate - Lighting

Geoff has worked as an Event Producer, Production Manager, Lighting Designer, Set Designer, Public Artist and Venue Designer. His work has ranged from many smaller innovative productions to large scale theatre/dance productions, festivals, art exhibitions, events, museums and venue creation.

Awards include: Ruby Award for Sustained Contribution, Green Room Award Best lighting Design for Night Letters (State Theatre Company of South Australia), Sydney Theatre Award Best Lighting Design for Never Did Me Any Harm (Force Majeure), Helpman Award for Best Scenic Design for Little Bird (State Theatre Company of South Australia). Geoff is Artistic Associate (Design) for Slingsby.

Quincy Grant

Artistic Associate - Composer

Quincy is an Adelaide based director of theatre, music theatre and opera. He has also worked as creative producer of multidisciplinary arts programs, producer of large-scale outdoor events and festival director. Quincy is an Adelaide based director of theatre, music theatre and opera.

Quincy Grant composes music for theatre, concert stage and film. His work includes music for plays such as The Tragical Life of Cheeseboy, and When the Rain Stops Falling; many works for orchestra that have been played in Germany, Canada, and by the leading Australian orchestras; and soundtracks for films and documentaries broadcast on the ABC and SBS. He also writes for concert performances and film, and plays in many groups: from rock to new music and, most recently wild gypsy music with Golonka.

He is co-director of The Firm, a company that presents concerts each year featuring Australian classical musicians in programmes of new Australian music along side interesting repertoire. In 2013 his first opera, An Ode to Nonsense, was premiered by Slingsby and the State Opera of South Australia.

This is the seventh wonderful show he has done with Slingsby!

Quincy lives in Adelaide with four dear ones – Anna, Arland, Clara and Miranda.

Production Credits

  • Composer Quincy Grant
  • Director/ Scenario Andy Packer
  • Librettist Jane Goldney
  • Musical Director Timothy Sexton
  • Set and Lighting Designer Geoff Cobham
  • Costume Designer Ailsa Paterson
  • Projection Design Cindi Drennan
  • Images Andy Ellis
  • Executive Producer Jodi Glass
  • Cast Nicholas Lester Gussie
  • Cast Johanna Allen Giorgio
  • Cast Adam Goodburn

Production Credits

What people are saying

““…for a touching account of what happens to the human mind when pure nonsense takes over, Ode to Nonsense ploughs new ground.” “…it recounts with utmost charm and humanity the life story of Edward Lear..." “It is poignantly beautiful.” “Ode to Nonsense is curiously but wonderfully elating, conveying a message that nonsense is no bad thing.” ” Graham Strahle, The Australian, 30 April 2013


“"...simply not like anything else." "Slingsby may pop a feather in the cap for the scale and originality of this work." ”

Samela Harris, The Barefoot Review, 26 April 2013

Educational Resources