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The death, during a camping trip in central Australia, of the nine-week-old baby, Azaria Chamberlain, and the subsequent trial, imprisonment and eventual exoneration of her mother, Lindy, for the murder of the child was a seminal event in recent Australian social history. The issues raised by this event, including sexism, racism, sectarianism and the abuse of power, left deep scars on the Australian psyche as the reaction of the Australian public throughout the incident diverged from the prevailing view of Australian identity as one characterised by ‘mate-ship’, egalitarianism, and a ‘fair-go’. This paper examines how Moya Henderson’s opera Lindy, functions not only to tell and reinterpret the story through a fragmented postmodern narrative, but also as an act of ‘cultural revenge’. In celebrating this retelling of the story through opera, one segment of Australian society is given the opportunity to punish, marginalise and re-educate another. Through an examination of the circumstances surrounding the commissioning and development of the opera, structural aspects of the narrative style employed in the opera, and the critical reception of the opera, the paper posits that Lindy represents a cultural tool that enables a catharsis through vengeance.


School of Arts and Sciences

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Book Chapter

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