The opera conductor has taken on the task of ensuring that these Aussie greats are not forgotten.

Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by many singers of celebrity. These famous names were not only on record – having collected opera recordings from the age of four – but also personal friends. Over two decades ago, when I first realised the need to preserve old tapes to CD format, I wrote to four dozen singers who had performed in Australia in the decades since the 1940s, asking if they had any ‘recordings’ of themselves. Most of these Australian-born singers had never been offered the luxury of studio recordings and the only captures of their voices and artistry were from ‘live’ performances on tape. These primitive sound relics, which have lain silent for decades, hold a wealth of wonderful voices, which are our operatic history!

La Sonnambula from the Sutherland- Williamson Grand Opera Season of 1965. Photo from Brian Castles-Onion’s Private Collection

Three years ago, I commenced the Great Australian Voices series on Désirée Records in the hope that future generations would have the opportunity to hear how...

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