Opera Australia’s controversial artistic director Lyndon Terracini has lashed out over news coverage of the company in Daily Review by revoking Deputy Editor and critic Ben Neutze’s media tickets.
Neutze has not received an invitation for the company’s upcoming Sydney production Two Weddings, One Bride, opening on Saturday, April 29. Yesterday, Daily Review inquired as to whether he would be invited, and Opera Australia confirmed that Terracini had ordered Neutze be removed from the company’s media ticketing list.
The Trump-style executive order comes two years after Terracini famously barred senior critics, Diana Simmonds from Stage Noise and Harriet Cunningham, who reviews for the Sydney Morning Herald. Earlier this year, reviewer Jade Kops from Broadway World was taken off the company’s lists for negative reviews.
Opera Australia hasn’t stated specifically what coverage resulted in Terracini’s order, but we recently published an investigation by Neutze into the company’s internal workings, its rapidly increasing use of international artists, and its apparently “disrespectful” treatment of senior creative talents. Neutze also made criticisms of the company in a generally positive review of its production of Carmen on Sydney Harbour.
It’s standard practice in Australia and around the world that critics are provided with complimentary tickets, enabling them to review live performances. It has long been a convention in democratic countries that the provision of review tickets does not guarantee positive coverage. In fact, in many democratic societies the media are expected to report fearlessly on the arts, especially when those artistic endeavours and the salaries of its staff are paid for with taxpayers’ funds. (Opera Australia receives about $25 million a year in government funds – vastly more than any other performing arts company in the country).
Neutze has been reviewing Opera Australia productions for more than five years, and has covered the company and its productions extensively.
“I’ve had a good professional relationship with Opera Australia for quite a few years and love a lot of their work,” Neutze said. “But I’m not really surprised I’ve been taken off the list. There seems to be a certain climate of fear at the company about being too critical or speaking out in certain ways. And Lyndon has revoked other critics’ tickets when he hasn’t liked what they’d written.
“But I still think the issues I’ve raised are important, and ones which should be brought to light. I’m very glad we were able to publish those pieces on Daily Review.”
Daily Review still plans to report on Opera Australia activities given it’s the largest and wealthiest subsidised arts company in Australia and Neutze will review the company’s new productions premiering in Sydney, but we will be looking into alternative ticketing.
We’re also asking our loyal, opera-loving readers to support us in purchasing tickets for Neutze for review purposes. If you’d like to make a contribution, please visit our Support page. Once you’ve made a payment, however small, send us an email at email@example.com, with the subject line ‘Opera Australia’ to advise that your support is specifically designated for review tickets. Any surplus funds will be dedicated to Daily Review‘s ongoing campaign to pay for independent art journalism as arts coverage declines in mainstream media.