Inquiry into the state of opera in Australia invites lovers of the art form to have their say.
The programming choices of some of Australia’s biggest opera companies have come under considerable scrutiny in recent months, with some cultural commentators and opera fans criticising the “safe” and “predictable” selection of operas on offer in 2015. Voicing these concerns may have seemed futile or even hazardous, as was the case for two respected critics who had their press tickets revoked by Opera Australia recently after authoring articles attacking the company’s 2015 season. However now a government inquiry into the future of opera has announced a series of public consultations to allow opera lovers to share their thoughts on the current state of the art form in Australia.
The National Opera Review, led by Dr Helen Nugent, was established last year to assess the “artistic vibrancy, engagement with audiences and financial positions” of Australia’s four most heavily subsidised opera companies: State Opera of South Australia, West Australian Opera, Opera Queensland and Opera Australia. The series of public consultations will visit Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide between January 27 and February 6. Full details of the public consultations are listed below.
The panel assembled for the National Opera Review, which in addition to Dr Nugent includes opera director Moffatt Oxenbould, opera promoter Andrew McKinnon and Chairwoman of the Melbourne Recital Centre Kathryn Fagg, will unfortunately not be making a comprehensive audit of the opera landscape in Australia. It will not for example examine the role of opera companies operating under a subscription model such as Victorian Opera, or niche companies such as baroque specialists Pinchgut Opera, or contemporary opera champions Sydney Chamber Opera.
The inquiry will publish its findings by June 30 this year, with changes to future funding and recommendations as to how “appreciation of opera as an art form” can be increased the anticipated outcome. The Australian opera industry currently receives around $22.5 million in government funding through the Australia Council every year, with the largest amount, approximately $20 million, going to Opera Australia. Opera is not however the most heavily subsidised of the arts, with orchestras ($52 million) and theatre ($27 million) receiving the most generous grants.
National Opera Review Public Consultations schedule
Friday 23 January from 2.30pm to 4.30pm
Queensland Art Gallery
Tuesday 27 January from 2.30pm to 4.30pm
State Library of Western Australia
Thursday 29 January from 3.00pm to 5.00pm
Arts Centre Melbourne
Friday 30 January from 3.00pm to 5.00pm
Friday 6 February from 3.00pm to 5.00pm
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, ANZ House
To register to attend a public consultation please visit the National Opera Review website.