Demon Ducks and Pandemonium!!

Conductor Christoph Altstaedt and Soprano Rachelle Durkin.
Music by Ligeti, Vines, Gruber

A group of seven young musicians with different type of instruments casually chatting, playing and holding their instruments
Photo by Lisa Maree Williams

Music that weaves fantastical tales and breaks all the rules. Get ready for a delightful evening you’ll carry in your heart forever.

Concert Dates

Sunday 21 April, 2:30pm
Mount Barker / Peramangk Country

Guiding you on this magical journey is the conductor extraordinaire, Christoph Altstaedt, and the enchanting Soprano, Rachelle Durkin.

This performance brings a rare and captivating program of musical satire and theatre. At the heart of this exceptional performance is HK Gruber’s Frankenstein!! in its chamber version, inspired by Mary Shelley’s iconic tale.

As the evening progresses, you will be carried away by the mysterious allure of Ligeti’s Mysteries of the Macabre. The piece is characterised by its playful, humoristic, eccentric, and sometimes chaotic nature.

Australia has its own touch of the weird and wacky to offer with a new commission from Dr Nicholas Vines: A Mega Masquerade. This fresh take on Carnival of the Animals is a satirical commentary on Australian issues of evolution and extinction featuring the unsung distant runner-up for our national emblem: the Demon Duck of Doom.

Prepare for a wild blend of avant-garde landscapes, theatrical narratives, and groundbreaking musical expressions under the baton of Altstaedt. Two exclamation marks required.


LIGETI Arr. Howarth Mysteries of the Macabre
VINES A Mega Masquerade
GRUBER Frankenstein!! A Pan-Demonium for Chansonnier & Ensemble

Christoph Altstaedt

Colour photo of Christoph Alstaedt sitting on stair and looking at the camera
Photo by Peter Gwiazda

Christoph Altstaedt made superb debuts at Cologne Opera and Vienna State Opera last season: in Cologne, he conducted select performances of Benjamin Lazar’s new production of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman; in Vienna, he conducted a full-company production of Haydn’s The Seasons which was performed alongside choreography by Martin Schläpfer with whom Christoph has developed a strong partnership since they first worked together during his tenure as Kapellmeister at Deutsche Oper am Rhein. Following his successful Vienna Volksoper debut with Brahms’ A German Requiem in 2021/22, Altstaedt returns this season to conduct The Moons Wears a White Shirt, a theatrical production comprising miniature stories withmusic by Locatelli, Ligeti, and Schnittke.

A popular guest of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Altstaedt has toured with them across the UK, conducted their annual Messiah at the Royal Albert Hall and a London subscription concert featuring Beethoven’s complete Creatures of Prometheus. Upcoming plans and recent highlights include City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Antwerp Symphony, Academy of Ancient Music, George Enescu Philharmonic, Beethoven Orchestra Bonn, Dortmund Philharmonic, Australian Youth Orchestra (Sydney and Adelaide), Auckland Philharmonia, Ulster Orchestra, Janáček Philharmonic, a symphonic tour with Opera North, and several projects with the Gürzenich Orchester at the Cologne Philharmonie.

Rachelle Durkin

Close-up colour picture of Rachel Durkin looking at the camera

Australian/American soprano Rachelle Durkin became an established solo artist at The Metropolitan Opera New York singing principal roles there for many years – most notably Norina in Don Pasquale (recorded live for Sirius Radio), Lisa in La sonnambula, Clorinda in Cenerentola, Miss Schlesen in Phillip Glass’ Satyagraha, Frasquita in Carmen, Masha in Pique Dame, First Flower Maiden in Parsifal and Young Girl in Moses und Aron.

Most recently, she sang Violetta in La traviata for Victory Hall Opera, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni for Pittsburgh Opera and the title role in Tosca for Opera Queensland. 2021/2022 engagements included Tytania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Governess (The Turn of the Screw) in Adelaide, Morgana (Alcina) in Canberra and Musetta (La bohème) in Perth; in 2023, she returned to Opera Australia as Mrs Schlesen, to Perth as Musetta and was soloist with the Sydney, Tasmanian and West Australian Symphony Orchestras.

Other highlights have included Romance at the Met – Opera’s Most Romantic Moments, soprano soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Detroit Symphony Orchestra (c: Leonard Slatkin) and West Australian Symphony Orchestra (c: Asher Fisch) and Gala Concerts with Placido Domingo, Bryn Terfel and José Carreras.

Nicholas Paul Vines

Nicholas Vines (b.1976, Sydney) is an Australian composer particularly active at home and in the US. His compositions have been performed in Australia, North America, the UK, Europe, China and Japan by interpreters ranging from high school students to specialist new music ensembles. Published by Faber Music, Wirripang and the Australian Music Centre, his music has also been released on Navona and Move Records. Dr Vines has lectured in music at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, having received a PhD from the former and other qualifications from the Universities of Sydney and New England. Presently, he is a senior master of academic extension at Sydney Grammar School, as well as an expert musicologist in legal contexts. In addition to A Mega Masquerade, Dr Vines recently completed a showpiece for Australian clarinettist Georgina Oakes, Austrian bass clarinettist Anna Koch and a virtual ensemble, and is continuing work on a major song cycle for celebrated American soprano Lucy Fitz Gibbon and pianist Ryan MacEvoy McCullough.