Respected conductor with proven eclectic tastes bodes well for WA opera lovers.

The Board of West Australian Opera has today announced the appointment of Brad Cohen to the post of Artistic Director. He takes over from New Yorker, Joseph Colaneri who parted company with WA Opera after only two-and-a-years in the job.

UK-based but Australian-born, Cohen has an excellent reputation both at home and abroad, particularly in the field of bel canto opera, and has frequently been involved in projects outside of the mainstream repertoire. He also has an excellent track record in commissioning new work including the world premiere of Thomas Adès’ controversial Powder her Face (a musical masterpiece, which was rather hijacked by the media focus on an onstage act of fellatio). He conducted the Australian premiere of Jonathan Dove’s comic gem, Flight – a delightful opera set in an airport departure lounge – as well as the same composer’s compelling Tobias and the Angel.

West Australian Opera Chairman Terry Bowen said that Cohen, who has guest conducted the company over several years now and has worked with British composer Jonathan Dove on written-for-TV operas, “would bring extensive local and international experience to the role, a strong involvement in the commissioning and performance of new music, and direct experience of contemporary opera presentation platforms including television”.

Cohen will be steering the artistic direction of the company in the lead up to its anniversary in 2017 and WA Opera doubtless hopes that he will have a positive effect on a public persona, which has taken a battering over recent months with high-profile resignations and the notorious smoking ban that has been dubbed ‘Carmengate’.

Assuring Perth audiences of the commitment of another ‘overseas’ artistic chief to follow Colaneri, WA Opera General Manager Carolyn Chard said, “Mr Cohen will be in residence with the company for up to four months each year. In 2015, he will conduct Faust and be in residence in Perth for some of each rehearsal period during Madama Butterfly, The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro.”

A graduate of St John’s College, Oxford, in addition to his conducting career Cohen has worked frequently in TV, notably as a mentor on the BBC TV series Maestro! He is also known as an editor and publisher of operatic editions, published by Edition Peters. On CD he can be heard conducting an excellent account of Rossini’s Maometto Secondo and Le Comte Ory as well as rare works by Carafa and Mosca. He also conducted Emma Matthews Deutsche Grammophon debut, “Emma Matthews in Monte Carlo”.