The Fringe hears Jane Austen’s greatest hits

Mr Darcy won’t be there in person, but the drawing rooms of Jane Austen and her heroines will spring to life in a Fringe show organised by Flinders University.

In Jane Austen’s Music, readings from her novels and early writings will be interspersed with contemporary piano pieces and songs. The performance is at 2pm on Sunday, March 9 in North Adelaide Baptist Church.

Organiser Dr Gillian Dooley, who will also share the show’s soprano parts, said the selection of music is highly authentic – the program has been drawn from lists of the novelist’s favourite music found among manuscripts at her house in Chawton in Hampshire, now a museum dedicated to her life and work.

“These are songs which she knew and played herself,” Dr Dooley said.

While there will be a few ‘serious’ piano pieces by well-known composers, including Haydn, most of the pieces are popular, sentimental songs of the time, little known to modern audiences.

“They’re a bit like songs from the music-halls, but a hundred years earlier,” Dr Dooley said.

Wherever possible, she said, the songs have been linked to relevant readings from the novels: a comic song which lampoons country life, for example, follows a reading in which Mary Crawford, a character in Mansfield Park, lists a litany of rural inconveniences.

The 14 readings will be given by Flinders University staff from the School of Humanities and the University Library, while the 15 musical items will be performed by local musicians, comprising three singers, two pianists, a flautist and violinist.

Bookings for Jane Austen’s Music can be made through FringeTIX. Prices are $20 for adults and $15 for concession holders or groups of six or more. The North Adelaide Baptist Church is in Tynte Street, North Adelaide.

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