In Ulla’s Odyssey, fourteen-year-old Ulla is attempting to become the youngest person to sail the world single-handedly, navigating the high seas in her trusty ship ‘The Homer’ with only her cat Binnacle for company. All is not plain sailing, as our heroine encounters mythical creatures and obstacles on her journey, including Cy-ops, a one-eyed, over-keen robotic customs official who mistakes her cat for contraband, and Sylla, a dangerous sea creature whose body and mind have been horribly twisted by radioactive rubbish dumped into the ocean. Meanwhile the voices of Ulla’s friends and family call out to her from across the waves, tempting her to give up her lonely voyage and come home. A family-friendly fantasy, inspired by Homer’s Odyssey and by the modern teenagers who have circumnavigated the globe.
This opera is written to be performed by a minimum of four singers — two sopranos, one mezzo soprano, and one tenor. It can expand to incorporate puppeteers, a separate Chorus, and/or one baritone, as available.
ULLA, who is trying to set the record for youngest to sail solo around the world. She is proud, brave, capable, resourceful, and quick-witted. She has also been damaged by the adults around her in ways that she is fighting to escape or shake off… and her fierce ambition can sometimes blind her to her responsibility to the truth, and to those she loves.
THE SIRENS, the voices of ULLA’s longings, fears, anxieties… all the distracting and confusing emotions: played by members of the company.
THE GODDESS OF THE SEA, who incorporates aspects of marine deities from many cultures (including Chinese, Hellenic Greek, Inuit, Maori, and Yoruba). Majestic, magnanimous, terrifying when crossed.
CY-OPS, a robotically-operated lighthouse and border security system, operating somewhere near the Falkland Islands. Officious and self-important… and more than a bit defensive about being at least a couple of versions out of date.
SYLLA, a sea creature from the depths who has been twisted and mutated by all the toxic and radioactive rubbish that gets dumped into the ocean. Also a bit of a psycho.
GARIBDIS, the inchoate, suffering, furious voice of the South Pacific Garbage Vortex (in which the undegradable trash of Asia meets the plastic refuse of the Americas and causes havoc with all the creatures that eat it). Can double with CY-OPS.
THE CAPTAIN of the PENELOPE, a would-be rescuer who really doesn’t mean to be condescending. May double with CY-OPS.
BINNACLE, a smart, loyal, and curious tabby-cat who is ULLA’s boon companion. A non-singing (but very vocal) puppet.
Other voices (including the CHORUS) and puppetry are provided by the company.
For access to the script for Ulla’s Odyssey, please contact the playwright directly here.
To view others works by this playwright, click here.
For more information about the playwright and her work, visit the CWPO collection.
Developed by Toronto’s Theatre Direct and Auckland’s Opera Factory. Winner of both the Opera Factory New Works competition (2012) and the Flourish Prize (2014). Ulla’s Odyssey premiered in At Kings Place, London with OperaUpClose (2015) and toured the UK for the next 3 years.
Director: Valentina Ceschi
Musical Director: Alex Beetschen
Set and Costume Designer: Faye Bradley
Puppet Designer and Director: Matt Hutchinson
Lighting Designer: Andrew May
Assistant Director and Graphic Designer: Camilla Ceschi