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Playlist: Jeff Busby

Jeff Busby is a photographer who has worked with just about every major arts company in the country. His photographs of actors acting, opera singers singing and dancers dancing are what you see when you read a review or tap onto their websites. Busby spends hours in the rehearsal room watching and working with performers with whom he shares a trust and understanding of each other’s work.  His archive work of live stage productions is a lasting document of recent Australian cultural history. Busby has had a particular relationship with the Melbourne Theatre Company. Former MTC artistic director Roger Hodgman brought him on board 26 years ago when David Parker moved onto his illustrious film career. Busby is responsible for the on-stage production of MTC’s Ghosts which is now playing at the Southbank Theatre in Melbourne. Other recent shows that owe their visual representation to Jeff include Wicked, The Rocky Horror Show and Strictly Ballroom.

We asked Busby (pictured above in his 1980s heyday) to nominate the music and film clips that are significant to him. His eclectic selection is below (and don’t skip the hip dance moves in the Mack the Knife video!)

Frank Ifield I Remember You

Let’s start with my dashing older cousin Frank. He was so sophisticated. He lived in Sydney. We went to my Uncle and Aunty’s for a party in school holidays and watched Frank on the TV singing Jailhouse Rock. He came back to the house with make-up still on and made us all laugh. I had to be in Show Biz! Here Frank sings his signature song in German.

Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht Mackie Messer from Die Dreigroschenoper

As a teenager I came across this riveting opera and its political and social message. I had no idea life could be so complicated. Totally hooked. This version in Czech takes me back to my first notions of being stylish.

Plastic Bertrand Ca Plane Pour Moi

The 1980s were liberating for me. I loved this for its absurd kinky nonsense message.


Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa, The Kings Singers – Tristis est anima mea from Tenebrae Responsoria

Visionary Italian Mannerist composer Gesualdo pierces my soul with his sensual and tortured motets.

Jessye Norman When I am Laid in Earth by Henry Purcell

The glorious opera voice of Jessye Norman singing a Baroque favourite. Purcell wrote many “Ayres for the Theatre” and I have been listening to them lately and wondering why we don’t see more Purcell productions in Australia.


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