Terracini's finale with Opera Australia

·3-min read

After 13 years as artistic director of Opera Australia, Lyndon Terracini has laid out the slate for his final season, featuring some of the world's finest singers.

"They are really the absolute top of the tree, so having them play such an important part in my final year was always appealing," he told AAP.

Leading tenor Jonas Kaufmann will star in La Gioconda, Australian soprano Jessica Pratt in The Tales of Hoffmann, and Karah Son will sing Madam Butterfly on Sydney Harbour.

There's a national tour for The Barber of Seville and Sydney productions of Rigoletto, Aida, La Boheme and Don Giovanni, while Brisbane will see a world-first digital production of Wagner's Ring Cycle.

The State Theatre redevelopment means Melbourne will miss out on fully-staged productions in 2023 according to Opera Australia, with Wagner's Tannhauser and Philip Glass' Satyagraha in concert at Hamer Hall instead.

Terracini had decided even before COVID hit that the upcoming season would be his last, and he revealed to AAP he is considering "big offers" from Europe.

His tenure has been bookended by drama - he took on the job during the GFC in 2009, pitching popular repertoire, annual operas on Sydney Harbour, and Wagner's Ring Cycle.

This approach saw ticket sales more than double, until the pandemic forced OA to cancel most of its 2021 season.

The organisation slumped to a $23 million loss and had to get rid of 56 staff, but in 2022 Terracini staged yet another turnaround.

With more than 470,000 tickets sold and $78m in takings so far, it's been OA's most successful year at the box office by a long way, and it's not over yet.

"I'm pleased about that, because most arts organisations are still in terrible trouble after COVID, and we're thriving," he said.

Madam Butterfly sold $1m worth of tickets in the first fortnight, and OA's second production of The Phantom of the Opera in the space of several months has opened to must-see reviews.

At any rate, Terracini has always wanted to democratise the artform.

"People can criticise, but I like Phantom of the Opera, I would argue that Phantom of the Opera is a 21st century opera," Terracini said.

It's certainly come with 21st century issues for Terracini, with allegations he made inappropriate comments during the production.

"I've never made insulting or inappropriate remarks to singers in any coaching session that I've ever had, and I've probably done hundreds and hundreds of them," he told AAP.

Earlier this year, a survey showed OA employees were also concerned about bullying within the organisation.

Terracini said sensitivities are to be expected emerging from a pandemic, and he's not sure how the survey was conducted.

He insists a company is best measured not by surveys, but onstage.

"If you've got a company that is really enthusiastic and happy and performing well, then you get great performances," he said.

"I'm going in and doing my job and working with people, and we're having a fantastic time putting on wonderful shows, so that's all I can go on really."

Tickets to the 2023 season go on sale to the public October 12.