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- American writer
New WA Opera artistic director Brad Cohen would continue the company's reputation as one of the best and most nurturing in Australia, opera chairman Terry Bowen said.
Announcing the appointment today, Mr Bowen said Cohen brought extensive international experience to the role, a strong involvement in the commissioning and performance of new music, and experience of presenting opera on contemporary platforms including television.
A regular WA Opera guest conductor, the British-based Australian fills a position made vacant when New York conductor Joseph Colaneri departed the company in November.
Cohen will be in residence for up to four months a year. He arrives in Perth next month and will be in residence during rehearsals for Madama Butterfly, The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro.
He will conduct Faust, starring Teddy Tahu Rhodes, in October.
The appointment comes as the WA Opera faces scrutiny, along with the three other major funded companies, by the Federal Government's national opera review into financial performance, artistic vibrancy and audience engagement.
A graduate of St John's College, Oxford, in addition to his conducting career for opera, concert and festivals, Cohen has worked in TV, notably as a mentor on the BBC series Maestro!
His involvement in the performance and commissioning of new music includes Powder her Face (world premiere), Flight (Australian premiere), Tobias and the Angel, L'augellino Belverde, Man on the Moon and When She Died.
He has toured the chamber works of Frank Zappa and commissioned music for the opening of the Millennium Dome.
WA Opera general manager Carolyn Chard said Cohen had been instrumental in a number of recent regional collaborations and initiatives including the Indian Ocean Opera Association, which led to the tri-national production of Otello, which was performed in Perth last year.
He conducted Otello in its premiere season in Cape Town and again in the most recent season for State Opera of South Australia in Adelaide.
Cohen said WA Opera was a dynamic, thriving company and he looked forward to the opportunity to contribute to its direction.
"I am looking forward to collaborating with the team to enrich our program and to further strengthen the relationship with our audience," he said.
"I particularly relish the prospect of working with the company's young artists and chorus, and planning for the (50th) anniversary year in 2017 will be an exciting project for us all."