Allerta!: What was the hairiest moment of 2012?
Lyndon Terracini: [Laughs] There were a few! Building Julie Taymor’s extremely complex Magic Flute set felt like flying by the seats of our pants, but in the end we sold more tickets to the production than we’d sold to any other Flute production in Sydney. I was especially thrilled that so many young people came to see the show. The most beautiful sound in the world is the sound of children laughing, and I heard that in Flute every night.
As for the inaugural Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour La Traviata; it certainly presented a few hairy moments. We didn’t finish the site until ten minutes before we opened the gates on opening night, for one thing. And I’ll always remember the moment, at 5am one morning, when the structure that the stage was going to be built on was lowered on to the pylons. If it bumped them in the wrong direction, they would either bend or snap and it would have been a complete disaster. You could feel the tension in the air that morning as this massive frame was being lowered on to the pylons.
|Stuart Skelton will perform in|
the Melbourne Ring Cycle
In the winter season my heart missed a beat or two when on the first night of Die tote Stadt, the wonderful trick whereby Cheryl Barker walks through the screen, didn’t work. She had to walk around the screen. I was sitting there, dying.
Then there was the first night of Lucia, when as the orchestra started playing the overture, the screen wouldn’t go up. I was fumbling for my iPhone, wondering “Who can I call…?” Those kinds of moments...they age you. [Laughs.]
Later in the year there was the moment when Houston Grand Opera pulled out of the Ring co-production. We have a lot of co-productions with major theatres, and while they offer many advantages, one drawback is that you are exposed to other companies’ difficulties. Most of our co-productions are with four or five partners, so it’s not a major disaster if one pulls out, but with the Ring we only had one partner. Fortunately we built in a big contingency for the production. The shortfall in expected funds for the Ring will be absorbed into our annual activities and will not impact on the production in any way.
Allerta!: And what were some of the year’s highlights?
LT: When on opening night of La Traviata on the Harbour, 3000 people spontaneously leapt to their feet, it was pretty special. Another amazing moment was when on the first night of South Pacific, the audience was on their feet again. It was wonderful that so many young people came to The Magic Flute, having the time of their lives. I was also incredibly moved when at the end of our Community Choirs project, choristers walked on stage at the Sydney Opera House and their relatives and friends in the audience waved at them, and they were just thrilled. Finally there was Yarrabah! The Musical, drawing an audience of 4,500 people among the North Queensland Aboriginal community. At the end of it, people were cheering with tears running down their cheeks. That was extraordinary, a life-changing experience.
|Community Choirs Project|
LT: Our budget increased by $30 million last year, and we had to earn that extra $30 million; our core government funding did not increase. I think it’s fair that we earn our keep, but in order to do so, we’ve had to play to a much larger audience than before. To be attractive to that larger audience, we’ve had to diversify, and in the process we discovered that we have many different audiences rather than one big audience. In a democratic society, if everyone is paying tax, then it’s our job to make sure that as many people as possible get the benefit of that tax. And so, we are now making it our business to play to each of the audiences that support us, often through different productions.
|Former Chief Executive|
LT: I was really sorry to see Adrian go, even though I understood why he felt that he needed to do something else at this stage of his life. When I first came to OA he was very welcoming, and he’s been tremendously supportive of everything that I’ve done. We’ve never had a disagreement. One of the reasons that things have been going so well at OA, is that there’s a chemistry among senior management members that makes things work. Adrian has been an extremely important part of that.
|Handa Opera on Sydney|
Harbour: La Traviata
(Photo by Jonathan Summers)
LT: It’s part of our mainstream program now. 61% of people who bought tickets to La Traviata had never been to the opera before. I think that’s part of the reason why Aida and Butterfly did so well last year – that new audience is now discovering our other productions. I foresee that Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour will drive much of what we do in future.
Allerta!: You’ve been called an impresario. Do you think the title is apt?