Posted by: Lisa Hill | November 8, 2008

The Trout Opera (2007), by Matthew Condon

trout-operaThe Trout Opera by Matthew Condon – this is a brilliant book and I don’t understand why it wasn’t nominated for the MF shortlist. It has an engaging plot, memorable characters and a vivid Australian setting, bringing to life the Snowy River in a moving portrait of Australian country life.

The plot is constructed around the Sydney Olympics Opening Ceremony, that excruciating bit of kitsch that branded our country forever as lowbrow and corny. (Not just my opinion, it was the consensus around the staff room table today when the conversation turned to Beijing.)


In The Trout Opera, it was the misfortune of the central character, Wilfred Lampe, to be turning 100 years old just in time to symbolise the ‘real’ Australia’ – so he was plucked from his home in Dalgety NSW and ’secured’ in a nursing home so that he would live long enough to be featured as an ‘icon’ at the ceremony. Flashbacks take us back to his idyllic childhood, when he played a starring role in his teacher’s ‘trout opera’ which celebrates the release of trout into the Australian river system.

Parallel with Wilfred’s early days is the story of Aurora Beck, a junkie trying to escape her habit and her dealer, Wynter, a nasty piece of work indeed. The connection between the innocence of Wilfred’s simple and rather lonely life spent entirely in Dalgety and Aurora’s is gradually revealed in a climax that is very satisfying. Highly recommended.

PS I was delighted to see that The Trout Opera was shortlisted for the WA Australia-Asia Literary Awards so it may yet receive the recognition it deserves. (So I hope the judges don’t concur with Book Award Tragic who is very cross about the Aussie-centric flavour of the longlist!)

Author: Matthew Condon
Title: The Trout Opera
Publisher: Vintage
Source: Personal copy, purchased at Readings, $32.95


  1. […] The Trout Opera by Matt Condon (I’m barracking for this one because it has been unjustly overlooked.) […]


  2. […] me of the elderly heroes of Rodney Hall’s Love Without Hope and Matthew Condon’s The Trout Opera. But it was the chapter titled ‘Afternoon’  that won my heart: I’m not going to […]


  3. […] think that Salman Rushdie and Martin Amis etc have had their time, but The Trout Opera (Update, see my review) by Matthew Condon is an infinitely better book than TCOTB. Maybe its length counted against it? […]


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