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Welcome to 2017! I fly to Perth this coming week, in preparation for the start of our season – our 50th Anniversary Gala concert, which starts at 8pm on February 4 in the Supreme Court Gardens. We’ve had a lot of fun planning the program, selecting popular repertoire and pieces which celebrate our Company history, and we look forward to welcoming you to this free event.

In January, like Janus the god whose name the month takes, we look both forward and back. And for us at West Australian Opera, 2017 will be a sustained Janus-like activity, with a garland of celebratory activities celebrating our past. We are not resting, however – we are planning for 2018 and beyond. The challenges for our work remain as they always are, and the question we engage with remains the same: how do we honor the rich variety of opera, playing to a variety of audiences, in a yearly season consisting of only three mainstage productions? Our audience members who want operas they already know and love will be delighted by this coming year’s productions of ToscaThe Merry Widow and Lucia di Lammermoor. Those who connected with The Riders last season, and who are keen to explore new work, may miss the excitement of premieres this year. To those opera lovers I would say rest assured – we have exciting and accessible new work in our development pipeline! And other constituencies – those who love Handel, Rossini, Mozart, and Wagner – will all be longing for a taste in Perth of their favourite composer. We would love to nourish everyone, with four or more productions a year, which would greatly increase the scope and variety of what we were able to offer. But until and unless funding to enable such richness comes, we will continue to square the circle with the greatest ingenuity we can bring.

This year’s three productions continue my vision of renewal from within – two (Tosca and The Merry Widow) are productions which are being seen in Australia for the first time, and Lucia di Lammermoor features a new generation of Australian artists. I not only love the central operatic repertoire but am committed to it, and I know that we have by no means explored all the riches it carries within itself. My mission – in 2017 as ever – is to share this newness through the well-loved, the familiar as well as the novel, and to energise our art form through our passion, conviction and clarity of purpose. See you throughout the coming year!

Until next time,

Brad Cohen
Artistic Director