Opera Queensland Reception
Chair of Opera Queensland, Ms Linda Apelt and Mr Ron Apelt; Board Members; Opera Queensland CEO and Artistic Director Mr Patrick Nolan and Executives; Mr Tim Fairfax AC and Mrs Gina Fairfax AC; Professor Ian Frazer AC and Mrs Caroline Frazer; Opera Queensland artists and supporters; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.
I begin by acknowledging the original custodians of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and extend respectful greetings to Elders, past, present and emerging.
As Joint Patrons of Opera Queensland, Graeme and I are delighted to welcome you to Government House to celebrate the full return of the performing arts to our lives.
For much of the time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, audiences have been masked and uncertain, festivals have been postponed or cancelled, performances have been virtual or reduced in scale, and artists and Arts workers all over the world have found their careers stalled.
Not even the world’s largest opera companies were immune from this impact – but the pandemic also opened the door to change and experimentation.
Opera Queensland firmly grasped that opportunity and continued to pursue its ambitious goals. Last year, in its 40th anniversary year, the organisation reached almost 150,000 people, presented five new productions, toured to 31 regional and remote communities, and gave employment to almost 250 artists and arts workers.
That achievement alone warrants recognition, but tonight we can also celebrate the start of this year’s season, with success already chalked up for projects and productions ranging from The Sopranos and La Traviata to Bleach, and the remarkable Festival of Outback Opera.
Those programs demonstrate the vibrancy, diversity and bold programming that characterise Opera Queensland today. Under Patrick Nolan’s leadership since 2017, the company has focused on assuring the future by reinvigorating the classics while embracing bold contemporary work, forging new collaborations, supporting emerging artists, conducting workshops, and reaching out to audiences of all ages, wherever they live in our vast State.
That Opera Queensland has been able to pursue its goals with such courage and imagination, despite pandemic restrictions, is truly remarkable and, on behalf of all Queenslanders, I congratulate the Board, the executive, the staff and the artists on this achievement.
I also thank the Commonwealth and State governments and the many individual and corporate donors and sponsors whose generosity and continued belief have made it possible.
We wish Opera Queensland well for the remainder of the 2022 season and for the future.
The pull of tradition and the familiar may be strong, but as Patrick himself has said, the creation of new works is where the future of opera is nurtured. It is what opera has done for centuries – and next month’s production of The Call is firmly in the tradition of operas like Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro which Graeme and I saw last year, raised eyebrows and challenged expectations almost 250 years ago.
I am looking forward to a wonderful performance and acknowledge the incredible talent of artists Eva Kong and José Carbo and pianist Mr John Woods.
We are delighted to welcome you all here tonight and please enjoy the hospitality of Government House. Thank you.