WA Opera has salvaged Tim Finn’s Ihitai ‘Avei’a (Star Navigator) from COVID cancellation, recording the new work for ABC Classic’s Sunday Opera on Sunday. The storyline follows master navigators Captain Cook and Tupaia, a Tahitian “star navigator”, in 1770, when European technology met the traditional methods of the Pacific aboard the Endeavour during voyages that rewrote the Western map of the region. Cook professed to be “perfectly lost in admiration” for the Tahitians’ seafaring, covering vast areas of ocean without maps, compass or sextant. Jointly commissioned by WA Opera, New Zealand Opera and Victorian Opera, Ihitai ‘Avei’a (Star Navigator) was scheduled for WA Opera’s 2020 season, and repurposed for 2021, but both performances were cancelled due to COVID-19 lockdowns and border closures. The recording features Teddy Tahu Rhodes as Cook and Emmanuel Fonoti-Fuimaono as Tupaia with WA Symphony Orchestra, WASO Chorus and Finn on piano and guitar under WA Opera artistic director and conductor Chris van Tuinen. “Given the huge collective effort required to produce new opera (along with the prodigious talents of composers and librettist), it’s a great moment to see recordings like this come to life,” Van Tuinen said. “Especially since it tells a story from our part of the world, and like other great art, helps us understand where we’ve come from and where we might go.” The collaboration was founded in a chance meeting in a theatre foyer of Finn and WA Opera executive director Carolyn Chard, who credited the support of the State Government and Wesfarmers Arts, and the co-operation of WASO and the ABC. “After the many workshops, creative development and a world pandemic, it’s wonderful that Tim’s Ihitai ‘Avei’a (Star Navigator) will be heard,” Chard said. “Co-commissioning, developing and completing new work is a massive undertaking which relies on many collaborators and supporters.” The broadcast will be live on ABC Classic’s Sunday Opera, November 26, and the ABC website and Listen app afterwards.