From the editor
In our September issue, we ran a cover story about the Sydney Opera House to celebrate its 45th birthday the following month and the centenary of its architect Jørn Utzon’s birth. It was a reminder, if one were needed, of what an incredible piece of architecture it is: an internationally renowned World Heritage site that is one of Australia’s greatest cultural assets and a treasured national icon.
So I was taken aback at the firestorm created when SOH CEO Louise Herron ruled out allowing words or branding to be projected onto the sails to promote a $13 million horse race called The Everest. Commercial advertising, she said, was outside the building’s charter. Radio shock jock Alan Jones didn’t agree and spoke forcefully in favour of Racing NSW. I was appalled by his aggressive interview with Herron, disappointed that NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian overturned Herron’s decision, and depressed that politicians from both sides supported Berejiklian, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying, “This is one of the biggest events of the year. Why not put it on the biggest billboard Sydney has?”
Billboard? The Sydney Opera House is not a billboard. Once again, as with the recent furore at the ABC, that saw the removal of Managing Director Michelle Guthrie, quickly followed by Chairman Justin Milne, the politicians showed how far removed they are from general public opinion, and how little they regard the Australian arts and culture. I suspect the public response over the Opera House took everyone involved by surprise. More than 300,000 people signed a petition opposing Berejiklian’s decision and less than 20 percent said they supported her in a poll.
Projections featuring the numbers and colours of the horses competing in the race, together with a trophy saying “Everest”, still made it onto the Opera House sails, but over 1000 people were there shining torches and peacefully protesting. Hopefully a line has been drawn and commercial advertising will never be allowed to happen again on one of our greatest cultural landmarks, and then flashed around the world. It’s time to realise that the arts matter to us (as does the future of our national broadcaster) and that the Sydney Opera House sails are not for sale.
– Jo Litson
Editor, Limelight Magazine
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Season Preview 2019
As Australia’s premier arts companies launch their latest programs, Limelight brings you an exclusive 22-page preview anticipating many of the exciting treats in store for 2019. For detailed listings of orchestral concerts, chamber music, opera, choral and song, theatre, dance, musicals, art exhibitions and festivals, turn to the back of this month’s issue for our essential guide.
A Show of Hans
Richard Wagner’s comic masterpiece, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg has become controversial of late. Peter Bassett explains.
The German-born cellist recounts how a chance meeting with Bill Murray on a flight from Berlin started a beautiful friendship.
Jo Litson discovers how the Hong Kong Philharmonic and Jaap van Zweden struck (Rhine)gold with an ambitious project.
Clive Paget explores the life of Erich Wolfgang Korngold, the Viennese wunderkind who had to go to the movies.
Diary of a Somebody
Mandy Patinkin, star of Evita, The Princess Bride and Homeland, talks storytelling, Sondheim and his new solo show.