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Opera Australia’s Carmen creative team speaks out

Director Gale Edwards, set designer Brian Thomson and costume designer Julie Lynch have delivered a slapdown to Opera Australia just two days before its multimillion-dollar production of Carmen opens on Sydney Harbour.

In a statement sent to media this afternoon, the trio, who directed and designed the original Carmen on Sydney Harbour in 2013, have said that they cannot guarantee the integrity of this remount of their work.

All three wanted to return to Opera Australia to assist in the remount of the production, but their requests were denied. The trio also directed and designed Opera Australia’s signature production, La Boheme, which is revived every year without their involvement.

Daily Review revealed in February that leading creative teams had been shut out of their own productions by Opera Australia. The company had also replaced local star mezzo soprano Jacqueline Dark from its production of Parsifal with no notice and had blacklisted reviewers for writing critically.

Read the full statement below.

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In 2013, between the three of us, we conceived, directed and designed Opera Australia’s Handa Opera production of CARMEN on Sydney Harbour. This Friday March 24, Opera Australia will present this production again.

As the key Creative Team we feel it is important that the press and public understand that neither the director (Gale Edwards), set designer (Brian Thomson) nor costume designer (Julie Lynch) have been invited back to oversee the re-mount.

It is beyond our comprehension how any professional company or artistic director would exclude the core creatives in such an important revival, especially when we have made multiple overtures to the Company offering our services to remount this much-acclaimed interpretation of CARMEN.

Therefore, we advise that we cannot guarantee the work’s integrity, or that the public will see the production as it was originally intended to be.

Brian Thomson AM, Julie Lynch and Gale Edwards

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NOTE: Opera Australia responded with this comment later in the afternoon:

Opera Australia, like many other major international opera companies, stages revival productions every year. It is common practice around the globe that directors are very rarely engaged to remount their original productions, and even more rare for set or costume designers.

In keeping with this practice, Opera Australia employs a wealth of talented directors and craftspeople who painstakingly and lovingly present these productions as true to their original format as possible.

Opera Australia’s current Sydney Summer Season included all revivals, La Bohème (Gale Edwards), La Traviata (Elijah Moshinsky), King Roger (Kasper Holten), Tosca (John Bell) and Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci (Damiano Michieletto). All revivals, and all presented by revival directors to great acclaim and accolades, and one of our most successful seasons to date.

READ MORE: INSIDE OPERA AUSTRALIA – FOREIGN SINGERS FAVOURED WHILE CREATIVE TEAMS ‘DISRESPECTED’

Featured image: Opera Australia’s 2013 production of Carmen. Photo by James Morgan

4 responses to “Opera Australia’s Carmen creative team speaks out

  1. OA regurgitates the same old repertoire year in and year out. The galling fact that Terancini’s contract was renewed beggars belief, he is single-handedly responsible for Opera’s demise in Australia.

  2. Daily Review has run this non-story before and, although I’m a critic of OA, I think you’re dead wrong. Opera houses rarely bring back the original director for revivals, as it’s simply too expensive. And it’s nonsense to suggest that the designers need to be involved.

    That said, with so much of the OA program taken up with musicals and revivals, I now get most of my opera fix outside Australia. Still, we do need to cut OA some slack this year, given that it won’t have access to the Opera House for most of the year – and apart from the revivals the program is actually quite imaginative.

  3. “Opera Australia’s current Sydney Summer Season included all revivals”

    They sound proud that the season is all revivals??? wtf OA. The next Puccini won’t create itself.

  4. sounds a lot like the cheap outlets that “painstakingly and lovingly” reproduce designer merchandise. “Carman” sort of thing?

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