No full-stage operas for Melbourne in 2023

·2-min read

Opera Australia will not stage any full productions in Melbourne during 2023, with only five "in concert" dates during the year.

Renovations at the State Theatre meant the venue was not available when the season was first planned, according to the national opera, while windows of availability offered later on were simply too short to be practical.

"There were problems with the venue for us, which is disappointing but I understand it, venues have got to be maintained... refurbishments don't come at the most convenient time," Opera Australia's artistic director Lyndon Terracini told AAP.

But the State Theatre renovation will not begin until 2024, according to the Arts Centre Melbourne, which runs the venue.

"The State Theatre will be open and operating throughout 2023. Bookings were made available to Opera Australia," the centre's performing arts executive director, Melanie Smith said in a statement to AAP.

Other theatres in the city are too small to stage operas, and Terracini said the organisation had looked at other options, with Melbourne's May opera season too cold and unpredictable for outdoor productions.

The restricted Melbourne season will likely mean millions in lost ticket sales for the national opera, with the 2023 slate, Terracini's last, concentrating on popular classics.

In Sydney, Opera Australia will stage seven full productions over five months, including Rigoletto, Aida, La Boheme and Don Giovanni, with Madam Butterfly on Sydney Harbour.

Brisbane will see Aida as well as a world-first digital production of Wagner's Ring Cycle.

In contrast, the Melbourne program consists of three concert dates at Hamer Hall and two more at the Melbourne Recital Centre.

Celebrated American tenor Michael Fabiano will play one date at the Recital Centre, as will Italian bass Ferruccio Furlanetto.

At Hamer Hall, Shanul Sharma will sing Philip Glass's Satyagraha in a one-night show, while German tenor Stefan Vinke and American soprano Amber Wagner will perform Wagner's Tannhauser over two nights.

However a new production of The Phantom of the Opera, currently playing at the Sydney Opera House, will play in Melbourne from November until the end of January.

A national tour of The Barber of Seville will not travel to Victoria.

The renovation of the State Theatre will deliver improved lighting, acoustics and seating, and new rehearsal spaces and back of house facilities.

The venue is expected to be closed from 2024-26 while the work is undertaken as part of a $1.7 billion upgrade of the city's arts precinct.