Congratulations for 50 years West Australian Opera.

I remember what a special year I had with the company for the 40th Anniversary, where so many local artists were showcased and such a great range of repertoire performed. Starting with The Love of the Nightingale, who could forget Emma Matthew’s heart-wrenching Philomele and the beautiful ensemble work of the Thracian Women. Then the very next week we mounted Orpheus in the Underworld for Opera in the Park, Katja Webb’s major role debut and an extremely impressive local cast.

Mid year we performed Rigoletto, the first time it had been seen in Perth for many years, in the beautiful Elijah Moshinsky production, and Elivra Fatikhova’s Gilda was perfection, along with Michael Lewis’ world-class Rigoletto. And we followed that later with La Boheme, with Elisa Wilson as Musetta and James Clayton’s first major role as Schaunard.
In between we had the first year of the Peet Young Artist Concert Series and, for me the year’s highlight, the 40th Anniversary Concert at Government House Ballroom featuring the West Australian Opera Chorus. We managed to program an program that gave every chorister a solo moment, in addition to getting to sing some repertoire that was new to Perth audiences.

2007 was a year when local artists included Sara Macliver, Katja Webb, Elisa Wilson, Zoe Kikiros, Toni Johnson, Penelope Reynolds, Jennifer Barrington, Tamsyn Stock-Stafford, Sarah Brittenden, Fiona Campbell, Roberto Abate, Charlie Mellor, Matthew Lester, Justin Friend, Sitiveni Talei, James Clayton, Duncan Rock and Burhan Guner.

Not every opera company is lucky enough to present world premieres, and so I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to be involved in The Love of the Nightingale. Richard Mill’s newest opera was a critical success (winning 5 Helpmann Awards) and was exceptionally well-cast, with our local singers performing alongside Orla Boylan, Emma Matthews, Elizabeth Campbell, James Egglestone and Douglas McNichol. Other wonderful guests in the year included Elvira Fatikhova, Mary Plazas, Paul O’Neill, Jorge Lopez-Yanez, Luke Gabbedy and Shane Lowrencev.

What a rich time it was. I enjoyed how busy the company was becoming and with it, more opportunities for locally-based singers.

Thanks for all the fabulous memories over my 5 years with the company – the above is a snapshot of just one of those years.

Francis Greep
Head of Music WAO 2006-2010