Opera Australia’s New Artistic Director’s Announces Inaugural Season
Image: Opera Australia Artistic Director Jo Davies and CEO Fiona Allan. Photographer: Daniel Boud
Opera Australia’s new Artistic Director Jo Davies has announced her initial 2024 Season.
“I’m excited to introduce a season comprising new Australian works and exhilarating renditions of audience favourites presented by some extraordinary creative teams and casts, featuring some of the world’s best artists,” said Ms Davies.
“There is so much Australian talent to harness, which is an exciting prospect for me as an incoming Artistic Director. This not only includes those working locally, but also reconnecting with talent who are based abroad. Alongside this, I am also determined to maintain Opera Australia’s strong connection to the international opera community, ensuring the company continues to build on its reputation for excellence and innovation, and positions itself as a leader in the global creative sector.”
Image: llan Clayton as Hamlet and David Butt Philip as Laertes in Glydenbourne's production of Hamlet in 2017. Photographer: Richard Hubert Smith.
Highlights of Ms Davies’ 2024 Sydney Winter Season include Australian composer Brett Dean’s internationally acclaimed Hamlet starring British tenor Allan Clayton, Neil Armfield’s production of Watershed, and Sydney Theatre Company’s Artistic Director Kip Williams’ new production of Gilgamesh, along with new productions of Tosca and Il Trittico.
Il Trittico will showcase the creativity of exciting young local directors Constantine Costi, Imara Savage and Shaun Rennie, and across the season some of the country’s best singers will be on stage including Stacey Alleaume, Pelham Andrews, Kanen Breen, Lauren Fagan, Warwick Fyfe, Lorina Gore, Simon Meadows, Mark Oates, Alexandra Oomens and Helen Sherman plus a cast of contemporary opera specialists in Gilgamesh.
Image: Il Trittico. Photographer: Georges Antoni
Ms Davies’ reputation as a strong advocate for gender equality has carried over to her new role with OA, increasing the percentage of female creatives across the board with Francesca Zambello returning to direct West Side Story on Sydney Harbour, BAFTA winning costume designer Fotini Dimitou bringing her design eye to Tosca, director Imara Savage will be joined by lighting designer Verity Hampson on Il Trittico, while conductors Lidiya Yankovskaya and Zoe Zeniodi will lead the Opera Australia Orchestra through Il Trittico and Così fan tutte respectively.
OA will present several new works in partnership with local arts organisations including Carriageworks and the Sydney Opera House as well as the Australian String Quartet and Ensemble Offspring. 2024 will also mark the first time OA joins forces with Sydney Chamber Opera, which is renowned for achieving new visions with contemporary opera.
Opera Australia is also reprising its most popular Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour production of West Side Story, and touring a new production of La Bohème around the country
In Victoria the company will extend its footprint, staging performances at venues across Melbourne, including Tosca at Margaret Court Arena, Eucalyptus at the Palais Theatre and Breaking the Waves at Hamer Hall, as well as performing The Magic Flute and Chorus! in the recently refurbished Geelong Arts Centre.
Image: Opera North's 2023 production of Tosca. Photographer: James Glossop
“The closure of the State Theatre has presented us with a creative opportunity to expand into theatres and spaces across and beyond the city, challenging us to innovate as we continue to explore alternative and non-conventional venues while our traditional theatre venue options remain limited,” said Ms Davies.
CEO Fiona Allan is delighted to be sharing the first Opera Australia season under the artistic leadership of Jo Davies.
“Opera Australia’s new direction is as a company that is much more collaborative, committed to creative diversity and equity, and in the development and promotion of Australian talent. We also had a stated commitment to broaden our offering to audiences old and new in Melbourne and surrounds.
“That Jo has been able to take on this challenge and produce such a varied and interesting artistic program, having not yet commenced full time in her role as our incoming Artistic Director,
Tosca will feature Opera Australia favourites Karah Son, Diego Torre and Warwick Fyfe will perform alongside three new international guest performers; rising Korean tenor Young Woo Kim and British singers Nadine Benjamin MBE and Robert Hayward.
OA and Victorian Opera will team up to co-present the world premiere of Sir Jonathan Mills' new commission Eucalyptus. Based on the book by Murray Bail, this production features all-Australian talent, both on and off the Palais Theatre stage, including librettist Meredith Oakes, director Michael Gow and starring Melbourne-based baritone Simon Meadows and South Australian soprano Desiree Frahn.
For the first time, Opera Australia will perform a work by American composer Missy Mazzoli, with librettist Royce Vavrek. Mazzoli’s operatic adaptation of Lars von Trier’s film Breaking the Waves will be conducted by Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of Canberra Symphony Orchestra Jessica Cottis, while Melbourne Theatre Company’s Anne-Louise Sarks will direct this semi-staged production at Hamer Hall.
Australian soprano Nicole Car appear in The Puccini Gala at Hamer Hall while the free, outdoor concert BMW Opera for All will return to Federation Square.
The Geelong Arts Centre will play host to two Victorian premieres; Kate Gaul’s bright new production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, starring tenor Shanul Sharma, and the critically acclaimed Chorus! with OA’s own Chorus Master Paul Fitzsimon and the forty-eight-strong Chorus presenting a series of great operatic choral pieces.
Image: La Bohème
A brand new touring production of La Bohème directed by Dean Bryant, will premiere in Dandenong and tour throughout Victoria, including to Nunawading, Horsham, Warrnambool, Bendigo and Sale before continuing on to Tasmania and NSW.
And there’s also the previously announced production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard starring Sarah Brightman in both Sydney and Melbourne.
Explore the complete Opera Australia 2024 Season at opera.org.au/discover-2024