Opera Australia’s Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini has allegedly ordered Daily Review critic and Deputy Editor Ben Neutze be removed from the company’s complimentary media ticketing list, according to a report by Daily Review’s Editor Raymond Gill titled Opera Australia Chief Bars Daily Review.
Described by Gill as a “Trump-style executive order”, the removal of Neutze from Opera Australia’s media list comes after Neutze published several articles critical of OA and Terracini’s management of the company. One piece published in February, entitled Inside Opera Australia: Foreign Singers Favoured While Creative Teams ‘Disrespected’, summarised recent controversies that have swirled around Opera Australia, including Heldentenor Stuart Skelton’s criticisms of the company’s use of “second-rate” international artists and the anger of members of Carmen on the Harbour’s original 2013 creative team who were not invited to be involved in this year’s revival of the production.
In Neutze’s review of Carmen on the Harbour – while giving the production a broadly positive three and a half stars – he berrated Opera Australia for changes to the production, particularly the final scene. “This new ending shows a misunderstanding of the vision informing this production, and great disrespect to the original creative team,” he wrote.
“I’ve had a good professional relationship with Opera Australia for quite a few years and love a lot of their work,” Neutze said in Gill’s article. “But I’m not really surprised I’ve been taken off the list. There seems to be a certain climate of fear at the company about being too critical or speaking out in certain ways. And Lyndon has revoked other critics’ tickets when he hasn’t liked what they’d written.”
This is not the first time that journalists have been denied complimentary tickets following critical coverage of Opera Australia. In 2015 Sydney Morning Herald critic Harriet Cunningham was removed from OA’s list following a piece she wrote for Daily Review titled Why I’m Not Going to the Opera Next Year as was Stage Noise’s Diana Simmonds, who had been critical of, among other things, OA’s decision to programme the musical Anything Goes.
Daily Review also reported that Jade Kops, an International Flight Attendant who writes for Broadway World, had been taken of OA’s media list following reviews of La Traviata and Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci, in both of which she slammed the use of international guest artists in favour of Australian singers. “Supporting characters,” she wrote in her Traviata review, “presented by regulars with the Opera Australia company familiar with the Australian expectation of a fully rounded performance, go a long way in making up for the deficiencies from the guest performers [sic] expression.”
“Daily Review still plans to report on Opera Australia activities given it’s the largest and wealthiest subsidised arts company in Australia and Neutze will review the company’s new productions premiering in Sydney,” Gill wrote, “but we will be looking into alternative ticketing.”
Opera Australia offered no comment when contacted by Limelight, however they did confirm that Raymond Gill has been invited to the Melbourne opening of Carmen, suggesting that any “bar” applies to Neutze alone and not Daily Review.