Skip to main content

Sibyl by William Kentridge

2 – 4 November 2023

Australian Exclusive

One of the world’s most distinctive visual storytellers, William Kentridge, has created two beguiling works that invite us to embrace the precariousness of our time. This multilayered production fuses together dance, opera, charcoal drawing and film. 

Visual and aural alchemy by South African artist William Kentridge

Myth, magic, music, movement, and mesmerizing imagery combine in revered South African visual artist William Kentridge’s newest production.

Presented in two parts, Sibyl is inspired by the Greek myth of the Cumaean Sibyl, and wrestles with the human desire to know our future and our helplessness before powers and technologies that obscure that knowledge from us.

Explainer

Watch William Kentridge discuss Sibyl

Part 1: The Moment Has Gone

22-minute film with live score by Kyle Shepherd

A short film combining piano and an all-male South African chorus led by Nhlanhla Mahlangu. The film features Kentridge’s unique charcoal animation technique of successive erasure and redrawing conjuring his alter ego Soho Eckstein. Set between a municipal art museum and an abandoned mining area at the edges of the city where unofficial artisanal gold mining takes place, Soho comes face to face with his fate. 

Part 2: Waiting for the Sibyl 

42-minute chamber opera

A visually stunning chamber opera that incorporates the signature elements of Kentridge’s visionary practice—projection, live performance, recorded music, dance / movement. 

Waiting for the Sibyl tells the story of the Cumaean prophetess Sibyl. It explores what it means to grapple with the endlessly human task of making sense of our contemporary world and living with uncertainty about our future. Created in collaboration with choral director and dancer Nhlanhla Mahlangu and Kyle Shepherd, one of South Africa’s leading progressive pianists and composers, it is a piece for nine performers that unfolds in a series of 6 short scenes. 

Waiting for the Sibyl is profound, jarring, playful, and a visually stunning meditation on what it means to be alive. 

NSW Government

This program is proudly supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW’s Blockbusters Funding initiative

Trailer

Watch the trailer

To call it stimulating would be an understatement. It is also cumulatively, and sometimes almost inexplicably, moving.

The Times

Artist information

William Kentridge

William Kentridge (1955, Johannesburg) works across mediums of drawing, writing, film, performance, music, theatre and collaborative practices, to create works of art that are grounded in politics, science, literature and history, always maintaining a space for contradiction and uncertainty. 

His work has been seen in museums and galleries around the world since the 1990s, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Albertina Museum in Vienna, Musée du Louvre in Paris, Louisiana Museum in Copenhagen, the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid, the Kunstmuseum in Basel and the Royal Academy of Arts in London. His work can be found in the collections of art museums and institutions across the globe.

Kentridge has directed Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Shostakovich’s The Nose, and Alban Berg’s operas Lulu and Wozzeck, for opera houses including the Metropolitan Opera in New York, La Scala in Milan, English National Opera in London, Opera de Lyon, Amsterdam Opera, the Sydney Opera House and the Salzburg Festival. His original works for stage combine performance, projections, shadow play, voice and music, and include the Refusal of Time, The Head & the Load, and Waiting for the Sibyl.

In 2016 Kentridge founded the Centre for the Less Good Idea in Johannesburg: a space for responsive thinking and making through experimental, collaborative and cross-disciplinary arts practices.  The Centre hosts an ongoing programme of workshops, public performances and mentorship activities. 

He is the recipient of honorary doctorates from several universities including Yale, Columbia and the University of London. Prizes include the Kyoto Prize (2010), the Princesa de Asturias Award (2017), the Praemium Imperiale Prize (2019), and an Olivier award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera in 2023.

Other information

You may also like

17 - 21 Jan 2024 Dance

Malevo

Strap yourself in for this high energy, foot-stomping, and positively electrifying dance spectacular by Argentina’s greatest export Malevo. An exhilarating take on the traditional Argentine ‘Malambo’, the all-male troupe brings its blazing raw talent down under for their Australian debut.

27 Feb - 24 Mar 2024 Cabaret

Gatsby

Welcome to a sparkling world where the 1920’s parties with 2020’s in this reimagining of Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby, experienced through the prism of cabaret, variety and contemporary music. 

22 - 29 Dec 2023 Circus

Circus 1903

Roll up! Roll up! Step back in time to the Golden Age of circus this Christmas. The acclaimed Circus 1903 makes its triumphant return to our stage, with magic and marvels bigger and better than ever before. 

Checking availability