Trouble Down Under

Discord rings out as new opera director takes up the baton
By Sharon Verghis
December 16, 2004

Richard Hickox barely had time to adjust to the time difference before he walked into his first industry controversy.
“I’m sorry that I have to spend my first morning in Australia defending the company,” the newly appointed music director of Opera Australia said yesterday.
Hickox, who officially begins his tenure at the company when he conducts a gala concert at the Opera House on New Year’s Eve, was responding to claims by some of the stars of the critically acclaimed production of the Ring cycle that they will be forced to go overseas because of lack of work here.
The soprano Lisa Gasteen, who shone as Brunnhilde in the recently concluded $15.3 million State Opera of South Australia production, told the Herald last week it was “pretty tragic” that so many top performers were not being heard here. Although they had managed to land engagements in Europe next year, many were bitter and disheartened that they had been overlooked at home, she said. She attributed the creative flight to what she sees as Australia’s continuing lack of support and regard for the arts, among other things.
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