The celebrated Australian opera and theatre director Elijah Moshinsky has been awarded the Opera Australia Trophy, the company’s highest honour. First given to Dame Joan Sutherland in 1990, the Trophy is an acknowledgement of Moshinsky’s long service to the company and his pre-eminent contribution to the country’s operatic landscape. While Moshinsky is unable to receive the award in person in Sydney, it has been bestowed upon the director to coincide with the company’s revival of his production of Werther.

Elijah Moshinsky. Photo © Jeff Busby

“When I left Australia to continue my studies at Oxford, I was already theatre and opera mad,” said Moshinsky upon receiving the Trophy. “I had always wanted to return and reform performance in Australia. After an invitation from Sir Edward Downes to direct the Australian premiere of Wozzeck, I was taken up by Moffatt Oxenbould who threw at me the entire history of Opera to present in Australia. It was a glorious period. Slowly, by example, I had the opportunity to show something new and challenging to opera in Australia. My artistic aim was to keep loyal to Australia and my devotion and commitment to that aim has lasted from 1976 until today.”

Elijah Moshinsky’s La Traviata for Opera Australia. Photo © Prudence Upton

“There have been many champions of my work, especially [Opera Australia’s Artistic Director] Lyndon Terracini, and I am thrilled to be offered this wonderful award for the continuity of work provided,” Moshinsky said. “I am deeply touched and honoured by the Award more than I can express. I live in England, where my children are, but my heart is in Australia. I still import Cherry Ripes.”

“Elijah Moshinsky is one of opera’s great directors and it has been a privilege for Opera Australia to collaborate with him on so many productions over the years,” said Terracini. “Elijah has a rare talent for creating timeless productions that resonate with audiences and it is a joy to be witness to his work.”

“We are saddened Elijah could not be with us to receive the award in person however we are tremendously proud of the distinguished history we have shared with him and he will always remain a much-admired member of the Opera Australia family,” he said.

Elijah MoshinskyElijah Moshinsky’s Rigoletto for Opera Australia. Photo © Prudence Upton

Moshinsky, who has had an esteemed international career of over three decades, enjoys a longstanding and acclaimed association with Opera Australia. He has directed more than 15 original productions for the company, including his regularly revived La Traviata and Rigoletto. His Australian premiere production of Wozzeck for the Adelaide Festival in 1976, presented by The Australian Opera as it was then known, is considered one of the great achievements of his career and was his first production for the company.

Elijah Moshinsky’s Simon Boccanegra for the Royal Opera House

Moshinsky’s career in opera first took flight in 1975 when he directed a stripped-back Peter Grimes for the Royal Opera House. It was his very first opera production. Winning immediate acclaim, Moshinsky’s Grimes was subsequently mounted by Paris Opera and La Scala and seen in Tokyo and Los Angeles. He has enjoyed a similarly storied history with the Royal Opera, directing titles like The Trojans at Carthage, Lohengrin, Macbeth, Tannhäuser, Otello, Simon Boccanegra, Aida and Il Trovatore.

Moshinsky has also directed many productions for English National Opera, including the British premiere of Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre, and Welsh National Opera. Other important houses that Moshinsky’s work has been seen in include the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera, the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg and Los Angeles Opera. He has received the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Opera three times for his productions of Lohengrin, Stiffelio and The Rake’s Progress for the Royal Opera.

The Trophy has been sent to Moshinsky in the United Kingdom.

Opera Australia’s Werther is at the Joan Sutherland Theatre, February 22 – March 11