Commissioned by the Aventa Ensemble and with a libretto by Marilyn Bowering, Bryars’ Marilyn Forever examines the inner life of Marilyn Monroe, and her intellectual and emotional relationships with death and love. Often seen as a victim, fantasy and sex object, the character of Monroe is fleshed out in this chamber opera: ‘We are given through Monroe’s own voice her combination of sensitivity and exhibitionism, allied to the narrative of the ‘chorus’, a view from the ‘inside’ of the conflicting emotion and ambitions of this compelling and timeless personality.

The Australian premiere of Marilyn Forever on 27 February began Gavin Bryars’ highly anticipated residency with the Adelaide Festival. The performances attracted rave reviews from critics:

Marilyn Forever is an intimate piece steeped in beautiful melancholia. Jealousy, fame and the search for love collide making this soulful opera with a perfect ending an Adelaide Festival highlight.” – Gordon Forester, Limelight

Aventa played with wonderful fluidity, ease and naturalness…whimsical, surreal and musically absorbing, Marilyn Forever is an undeniable highlight of this year’s Adelaide Festival.” – Graham Strahle, The Australian

Grimm was excellent as Marilyn, and Morris was commanding…A jazz trio (with the composer himself on bass) takes stage right, and an eight-piece ensemble fabulously conducted by Bill Linwood provides the main musical backing from stage left.” – Kym Clayton, The Barefoot Review


Fri 27 Feb, 7pm / Sat 28 Feb, 8pm / Sun 1 Mar, 6pm

COMPOSER Gavin Bryars LIBRETTIST Marilyn Bowering DIRECTOR Joel Ivany CONDUCTOR Bill Linwood MARILYN Anne Grimm THE MEN Richard Morris SET AND COSTUME DESIGN Camellia KooLIGHTING DESIGN Kevin Lamotte PRODUCED BY Aventa Ensemble

Presented with the assistance of Canada Council for the Arts and British Columbia Arts Council

Marilyn at Long Beach Opera
In March 2015, Marilyn Forever continued its journey with performances at Long Beach Opera. Critics have raved that Gavin Bryars’ chamber opera Marilyn Forever, is “an emotionally compelling work” — “an atmospheric, seductive and extremely attractive soundscape.”

Marilyn Monroe: Danielle Marcelle Bond
Marilyn Monroe: Jamie Chamberlin
Rehearsal Director: Lee Gregory
The Tritones: Robert Norman and Adrian Rosales

Conductor: Bill Linwood
Stage Director: Andreas Mitisek
Video Designer: Adam Flemming
Light Designer: Dan Weingarten


Bryars’ music offers an ineffable atmosphere and mood so rich that this becomes the first operatic score to give Marilyn the room she always wanted in life, simply to be Marilyn…With the help of Bryars’ bluesy wonder, very good singing throughout and Bill Linwood’s expert conducting, Marilyn struggles to come alive. Just as she did so sadly, yet so wondrously, in real life. – Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times

[An] emotionally compelling work… Bryars’ music is compassionate and also a bit breezy, a jazz score that uses the onstage trio and a small pit orchestra…In the pit, Linwood conducted with energy and an edge…The work is intriguing, passionate and informative. – John Farrell, Long Beach Press-Telegram

[A]n atmospheric, seductive and extremely attractive soundscape that holds the audience’s attention for the full 80 minutes of the work…Linwood conducts stylishly and authoritatively. –Jim Ruggirello, Gazettes

It is a noirish, jazzy work, Vegas noir sort of, with a soft glow of agony… Dirgelike and atmospheric, with knock-’em-dead performances by Jamie Chamberlin and Danielle Marcelle Bond as the inner and outer Marilyns, and Lee Gregory as the Rehearsal Director and the Men in Monroe’s life.
–Bondo Wyszpolski, Easy Reader News