New opera companies don’t pop up every day, and an opera company that places social justice at the very heart of its mission is even rarer. Sydney-based The Cooperative, however, is just that, a new broom with an ambitious program of atypical fare that isn’t going to let a little thing like a global pandemic get in its way.

Martin Everett, Rebecca Moret, Joanna Dionis Ross and Jeremy Boulton in The Consul. Photo © Simon Ross & Antoine Veling

The company is the brainchild of Menila Moineaux, an Anglo-Burmese opera director and soprano, originally from the Adelaide Hills, who completed her Bachelor of Music Studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in 2017. Curiously, the specific catalyst to form a company wasn’t a desire to emulate others or a sense of frustration at the current operatic status quo, but instead was the 2019 Federal election.

“I’d watched the results in dismay throughout the intervals of a performance I was singing and felt incredibly frustrated at the lack of a will to change that our society had demonstrated, even after...

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