Opera Companies

 AUSTRALIAN OPERA COMPANIES

Opera Australia

Opera Australia is a performing arts company with a mission to perform some of the greatest music ever written to as many people as possible. It performs operas, musicals and concerts in the Sydney Opera House and Arts Centre Melbourne, as well as annual Handa operas on Sydney Harbour and operas on tour.

Australia’s national opera company was born when a band of idealists — butchers, pharmacists, newsagents — gave up their day jobs to celebrate the 1956 Mozart bicentenary with a season of four of his operas. Nine years later, theatrical entrepreneur JC Williamson invited the company’s chorus, staff and some of its best singers to perform alongside Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti. In 1967, the NSW state government offered a grant towards the formation of a permanent state company. The Sydney Opera House opened in 1973.

In 1996, the company, then known as the Australian Opera, merged with the Victoria State Opera to form Opera Australia.

In past years Wagner's Tristan und IsoldeDer fliegende Holländer, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Lohengrin and Tannhäuser have been staged in Sydney by the company.

More recent productions of Wagner's operas include the company's first Ring Cycle, directed by Neil Armfield, in Melbourne in 2013 and again in 2016, Parsifal (a concert version in Sydney, 2017) and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Melbourne, 2018)

Wagner in 2020:

  • in May, a new Opera Australia/La Monnaie co-production of Lohengrin in the State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne
  • in November-December, a new Ring Cycle in the Lyric Theatre, Queensland Performing Arts Centre
     

Pacific Opera 

Pacific Opera, based in Sydney, is the Young Artists’ opera company. It supports young singers through a program of education comprising artistic training, performance opportunities, and professional skills development. Through this work, Pacific Opera cultivates the next generation of Australian talent.

Pinchgut Opera

Pinchgut Opera, based in Sydney, rediscovers baroque and early classical opera masterpieces.

National Opera

Canberra’s newly created National Opera is a national opera company which provides opportunities for artists to develop and perform their craft in a supportive environment of professionalism, collaboration and inclusion.

Australian baritone Peter Coleman-Wright is Artistic Director, and has officially announced the company's first program in 2020.

Victorian Opera

Victorian Opera is an opera company based in Melbourne, Victoria. The company was founded in 2005 by the Victorian Government as a replacement for the Victoria State Opera. It commenced operations in January 2006.

Der fliegende Holländer was staged in 2015, with the use of ground-breaking 3D technology. In 2019 the company presented Parsifal.

Looking back at 2019

    Melbourne Opera

    Melbourne Opera Company was founded in 2002 as a not-for-profit company dedicated to producing opera and associated art forms at realistic prices. It is based in Melbourne, Victoria and tours over an area between Canberra in the north and Hobart in the south.

    The company has regularly performed Wagner operas in recent years: Rienzi (2013, 2014), Tannhäuser (2015), Lohengrin (2017), Tristan und Isolde (2018) and Die fliegende Holländer (2019).

    Wagner in 2020:

    • in August, Das Rheingold in the Regent Theatre, Melbourne

    State Opera of South Australia

    The State Opera of South Australia aspires to make exciting and innovative experiences for its audiences, building on a national and international reputation for excellence and ground-breaking productions.

    A landmark production of Der Ring des Nibelungen was staged in Adelaide in 1989 and again in 2004. A concert performance of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg Act III was presented in 2018.

    Opera Queensland

    Opera Queensland began in June 1981 as The Lyric Opera of Queensland Limited (LOQ) with funding from the Queensland Government as “a company for the presentation of performances of opera, light opera and music theatre”.

    Its first Wagner production was a concert performance of The Flying Dutchman in 1983.

    Wagner in 2020:

    • in October, Tristan und Isolde in the Concert Hall, Queensland Performing Arts Centre

     

    SOME KEY INTERNATIONAL OPERA COMPANIES

    The Bayreuther Festspiele

    The Bayreuth Festival is a music festival held annually in Bayreuth, Germany, at which performances of Wagner's operas are presented. Wagner himself conceived and promoted the idea of a special festival to showcase his own works, in particular his Ring Cycle. Performances take place in a specially designed theatre, the Bayreuth Festspielhaus. Wagner personally supervised the design and construction of the theatre, which contained many architectural innovations to accommodate the huge orchestras for which Wagner wrote as well as the composer's particular vision about the staging of his works. 

    Deutsche Oper

    Destroyed by WWII bombing and reopened only in 1961 with a contemporary design, the Berlin opera house remains dedicated to upholding the legacy of the 19th century's opera greats, with works by Wagner making regular appearances on the program.

    The Metropolitan Opera

    The Metropolitan Opera in New York has regularly performed Wagner's operas. The most recent production of Der Ring des Nibelungen in 2019 was the eighth production in the Met’s history, with the first complete cycle presented in the 1887–88 season.

    Seattle Opera

    The Seattle Opera in the USA is noted for its performances of the works of Richard Wagner. From 1975 until 2013 it regularly performed Der Ring des Nibelungen.