Canberra, popularly known to mean “meeting place” in Ngunnawal (one of the Indigenous languages in the district when European settlers arrived), has a new opera company and opera lovers, as well as those curious about it, have a new destination to meet. In the midst of a pandemic, that’s a remarkable achievement, as was Saturday’s opening night of National Opera’s inaugural production of Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito. With it, the overall quality heralds a confident rebirth for opera in the city, in no small measure thanks to Artistic Director and director of the production, Peter Coleman-Wright, who has assembled a fine team of artists.

Helena Dix as an implacable Vitellia as Sesto, played by Catherine Carby, is arrested. Photograph © Peter Hislop 

Supposedly completed in just 18 days,  La Clemenza di Titowas commissioned to celebrate the coronation of Emperor Leopold II of Prague. Naturally, exemplifying regal duty and imperial character in a glowing light was imperative. So, obliging with the story of a benevolent Roman ruler (Tito) who exonerates his best friend (Sesto) from an assassination attempt on his life, including...