The recent death of Sydney-based artist manager Alex Robertson-Jervis caused an outpouring of grief within Australia’s opera and classical music communities.
The founder of Diva Management, Alex lost her two-year battle with metastatic breast cancer on October 11 last. Soprano Lorina Gore spoke on behalf of Alex’s artists at her Requiem Mass yesterday:
“I am devastated that I will no longer hear her calm and reassuring voice on the other end of the phone, to have someone to confide in when things don’t go quite as you had hoped, and to be able to trust that your best interests will be looked after with the utmost care and diplomacy.”
Alex Robertson-Jervis, Artist Manager (1970 – 2018)
Enjoying strong musical influences as a child (her mother being the esteemed musician and pedagogue Joanne Callinan), Alex went on to study voice at Sydney University and Griffith University. After period as a Young Artist with Opera Queensland, she furthered her studies in Europe on an Elizabethan Trust Scholarship.
She spent over a decade touring and performing various roles with Festivals and in concert across Europe and North America including Mimì in La Bohème, Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Miss Jessel in The Turn of the Screw, The Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro, Tatiana in Eugene Onegin and Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Between performance contracts, she worked as a Corporate Relations Manager at leading UK event agency, Toptable.
Upon her return to Australia in 2009, Alex was offered the role of Artist Manager (Vocal) at Patrick Togher Artists’ Management. In this capacity, she managed over 30 of Australasia’s most celebrated operatic and concert artists. It was here that her passion for artist management and administration was ignited. Working closely with Romola Tyrrell, Jackie Thomas-Piccardi and me for two and a half years, Alex used to “smash through emails like a fiend” (her words) and adored attending events and opening nights. She was tough, measured, immaculately groomed, thoughtful, determined – and calm.
A lucrative offer to return to the world of corporate relations was accepted but the lure of classical music was too great. Within 12 months, Alex had resumed the life of an artist manager and established Diva Management in 2012 – a boutique agency which enjoyed great success. For the next six years, many of the nation’s leading singers were cared for under Alex’s stewardship.
Despite her illness, Alex kept working to the very end and embraced her obligations as Secretary of ACMMA (Australasian Classical Music Managers Association) with great enthusiasm and care. Chairman of ACMMA, Dr David Brennan said: “Alex brought a magical presence to everything she did. She inspired us all with her love, loyalty and intelligence and she will be desperately missed.”
Fellow ACMMA member Marilyn Richardson said: “We have lost a very dear colleague whom I remember from being a bright young singer onwards… What a brave, lovely person, working and living right to the end!”
Alex Robertson contributed so much to classical music in this part of the world – her support for and defence of Australian artists was passionate and unwavering; her tireless efforts in support of the National Opera Review are particularly worthy of note.
Alex closed Diva Management on October 10, the day before she died. Her final email – sent to all her artists – is truly heartbreaking.
She is survived by her husband Laurence Jervis and her mother Joanne Callinan. She was 48 years old.