Opera Australia Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini AM.
Opera Australia Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini AM.

Singing the praises of taking opera to the masses

IN 2009, the position Lyndon Terracini took on as Artistic Director of Opera Australia could have been labelled a poisoned chalice.

In 2019, as Terracini agrees to extend his contract for a further three years, he would describe it as a blessing.

At 69-years-old, Terracini retains his characteristic good humour, enthusiasm and warmth. He says that besides signing the new contract, he has just happily married Swiss soprano and vocal teacher, Noëmi Nadelmann. He still travels the country, is a regular at opera openings, wakes early every morning and thoroughly enjoys a drop of red wine.

"I am fortunate that people pay me for things I love to do," he said.

"As they say, if you do something you love, you never work a day in your life."

But perhaps it seemed more like a working day, when a decade ago and just a few weeks into the new job, Terracini made plain his ambition to alter the course of Opera Australia events. He was determined to take opera to the people - all the people - not just an elite selection.

"The faces you see on our stages and in our orchestras do not accurately represent the faces you see on our streets," Terracini said at the annual Peggy Glanville-Hicks address.

Not only did these lines reflect his heart-felt desire to share the wonders of opera with every social stratum, but it also defined the journey he would take on to travel out of financial doom and into economic wellbeing.

As Terracini led Opera Australia from its traditional home into city parks, sandy beaches and red dirt, audiences have crowded to these non-traditional spaces. Additionally, Terracini has dazzled opera aficionados with a line-up of international voices.

In turn, Opera Australia has tripled its audience and tripled its turnover. In fact, Terracini notes that these days "30 per cent of the audience are international visitors".

In 2020, OA will present 923 performances throughout Australian.

Opera Australia CEO Rory Jeffes said this could not have been achieved "without Lyndon's tenacious and unwavering focus on delivering the highest quality performances to as wide and audience as possible".