An excerpt from the libretto; art work by Katy Mutton.


Having completed his latest tour of Afghanistan, an Australian soldier is on leave and taking the opportunity to return to his family’s farm in regional New South Wales – he is looking forward to resting. However, as he makes his way home he is confronted by news that is both life-affirming and devastating, which pushes him to reveal a dark secret that clings like a ghost. Ultimately he must question everything he knows. What sort of man is he? What does it mean to be brave? And what future might be waiting for his family?

A gritty, song-filled chronicle giving voice to the personal impact of modern warfare and the costs that are borne by families. Words by Nigel Featherstone. Music by James Humberstone. Initiated by the Goulburn Regional Conservatorium and developed by The Street Theatre in Canberra. World premiere: March 2018, Canberra, Australia.

The website for THE WEIGHT OF LIGHT can be found here.

Baritone Michael Lampard and accompanist Alan Hicks. Image courtesy of The Street Theatre

Watch a short film of the rehearsals

A 10-minute film of the rehearsals held at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music can be found here.

Listen to a song

A recording of ‘Weightless’ can be found here. Baritone: Michael Lampard. Accompanist: Alan Hicks. Recorded at ABC Radio Canberra on 26 February 2018.


‘THE WEIGHT OF LIGHT is a gem of a piece, combining the performance rhythms of a song cycle with the force of theatre. Much of its power comes from the delicate way the combination of Nigel Featherstone’s spare text and James Humberstone’s dark and carefully mournful music touches on issues of masculinity and trauma. Michael Lampard finds even the smallest scrap of light and uses it to the advantage of the performance. THE WEIGHT OF LIGHT will certainly have a life beyond the two Canberra performances’ – The Canberra Times

‘Spellbinding, spine-tingling, heartbreaking and gloriously uplifting. Extraordinary performance by operatic baritone Michael Lampard and pianist Alan Hicks. This was a stunningly moving, beautiful, haunting and inventive production from the very first breath to the last’ – award-winning poet Anne Casey

‘THE WEIGHT OF LIGHT is a richly crafted production with universal themes of grief, despair, hope and fear’ – Australian Stage

‘Seamless, exquisite, mesmeric poetry of text, music, drama and the conversation of light and shadow on a spare, evocative set that had me ‘falling / in my (own) chest / my guts / my legs / my head’, but then carried me as I fell, lifted me until I became the weight of light’ – award-winning author, poet and performer Merlinda Bobis

‘An enthralling visual and aural experience’ – Australian Arts Review

‘A beautiful show. The whole package – words, music, performance, set and lighting. Highly moving’ – Whispering Gums

‘A truly stunning piece of work. Bravo’ – Sydney Voice Project

‘THE WEIGHT OF LIGHT fearlessly takes on some big issues. Featherstone’s libretto impressively balances narrative and contemplation’ – ArtsHub

‘Composer James Humberstone, librettist Nigel Featherstone, director Caroline Stacey, baritone Michael Lampard and pianist Alan Hicks have put together a dark and spellbinding tale of a soldier who has returned from his latest tour of Afghanistan. As they move through the songs, a sense of a person lost and wondering emanates through the music, the lyrics, and the strongly effective staging and lighting, all in a well thought-out story that is touching and dramatic in every aspect. What this song cycle shows is that if there is anything good to come out of war, it is the beauty of creations such as THE WEIGHT OF LIGHT’ – Canberra City News

‘Daringly avant-garde. Intrigue throughout’ – Yolk


2018 Canberra Critics Circle Award