Opera Queensland Gala
Minister for Education, Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for Racing, the Honourable Grace Grace MP; Deputy Mayor, Councillor for Holland Park and Chair for Economic Development and the 2032 Olympic & Paralympic Games, Councillor Krista Adam, Councillor for Northgate Ward, Councillor Adam Allan, Chair of Opera Queensland, Ms Linda Apelt and Mr Ron Apelt; CEO and Artistic Director Mr Patrick Nolan; Opera Queensland Board Members and Executives; artists and supporters; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.
I too, would like to acknowledge the original custodians of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and extend respectful greetings to Elders, past, present and emerging.
Graeme and I were delighted to host a reception for Opera Queensland earlier this week at Government House, and to hear wonderful performances by Eva Kong and José Carbó, so ably accompanied by John Woods on piano.
Tonight, we’re looking forward to more musical treats in this marvellous space here at the Brisbane Racing Club at Eagle Farm, where racing began more than 150 years ago in 1865.
Today, the Club, in association with the Thoroughbred Racing History Association, boasts a dedicated heritage unit with a brief to preserve the history of thoroughbred horse-racing in Queensland, maintaining the Old Tote Racing Museum, and the racecourse itself, which they have described a ‘museum without walls’.
Like this quintessential Queensland landmark, Queensland’s Government House has also earned its place on our State’s heritage register, and, although the Vice-Regal residence doesn’t boast its own racecourse, Graeme and I, as its current custodians, have become keen students of the history of the Estate and of how my predecessors as Governor approached their role.
Among the things I have discovered just this week is that our very first Governor, Sir George Bowen, was the Patron of the Brisbane Turf Club, one of the predecessors of the Brisbane Racing Club, and that Sir George and Lady Bowen attended the maiden race meeting here at Eagle Farm. According to the report in the Brisbane Courier, an estimated four thousand people were here, the track was excellent, and the weather was a “splendid specimen of Queensland’s spring time”.
The Bowens also gave their support to many other activities in the young colony, including the performing arts. Brisbane did not have an appropriate performance venue for opera at the time, but it did have the School of Arts, and among the many performances the Bowens attended during their time in Queensland was an evening in 1863 when they were entertained by what were called “operatic morceaux”.
Graeme and I are very much looking forward to tonight’s “operatic morceaux” curated by Patrick Nolan and Ali McGregor. The imagination and creativity of Patrick and Ali, combined with the company’s gifted performers and Narelle French’s exceptional accompaniment, will ensure a memorable night for us all.
I thank Opera Queensland for the opportunity to attend such a wonderful evening. Each of Queensland’s 27 Governors since 1859 has supported and encouraged the Arts, and my husband and I are pleased to join the Governors since 1981 who have given this marvellous company their wholehearted support as Patron.
Enjoy your evening.