<![CDATA[Co-Opera - Opera on the Move - News]]>Sun, 19 Nov 2017 21:18:40 +1030Weebly<![CDATA[ Co-Opera - Reflection on 25 years and Direction for the Future ]]>Wed, 21 Sep 2016 05:21:46 GMThttp://co-opera.com.au/news/-co-opera-reflection-on-25-years-and-direction-for-the-futurePicture
Co-Opera’s 25th anniversary in 2016 is a milestone, and testimony to Co-Opera's strength, resilience and popularity.  For a quarter of a century Co-Opera's work has been the campfire around which people of all ages and cultural backgrounds have gathered.   Reflecting on the past 25 years it emerges that we don't so much need to re-assess but rather to re-assert.  Our challenge is to keep the campfire burning. 
Upon reflection we affirm our ongoing commitment to the professional development of Australian opera singers and to delivering high quality opera to a wide range of audiences.  We will endeavour to continue to generate our own income, as much as is possible, to increase and maintain our private benefactions and to regain significant levels of government support.  Co-Opera’s strategy is to seek multi-year funding through Catalyst – Australian Arts and Culture Fund with a view to then re-igniting more significant Australia Council and State support, as the company has proven over many years to use to great effect.  The imprimatur of meaningful Federal Government support offers increased leverage at a corporate level and at a State Government level.
Co-Opera sees this commitment to future generations of Australian artists and communities to be an important investment and one which impacts from the grassroots to the highest levels of the cultural landscape in Australia. 

<![CDATA[Co-Opera supports Music Education in Roxby Downs]]>Sun, 21 Aug 2016 07:45:46 GMThttp://co-opera.com.au/news/co-opera-supports-music-education-in-roxby-downsPicture
Co-Opera's mission is to enrich and enliven communities through the presentation of accessible and relevant opera productions. We do this by taking opera singers and musicians to remote Australia and engaging with local communities and educating young people. It is a legacy we are proud of and a commitment we honour, even in these tough times in The Arts. 
One of our treasured communities is Roxby Downs in South Australia. Co-opera has formed a close relationship with the musical community of Roxby Downs over the last five years, thanks to the generosity of SA Power Networks whose sponsorship has resulted in annual visits for workshops and performances. 
With the departure of Dr Owen Lewis, their distinguished community music leader, Co-Opera is keen to support local efforts to attract casual music teachers to Roxby and thereby help fill the gap.
Read more about their story via this link  https://australianculturalfund.org.au/projects/bringing-music-education-to-the-desert/
If you know of the benefits that music education can bring, please consider making a donation to help Roxby's children have access to a music education.

<![CDATA[Chair of the Board of  Management Report 2016]]>Wed, 13 Jul 2016 06:42:07 GMThttp://co-opera.com.au/news/chair-of-the-board-of-management-report-2016Performances and Tours
Despite the absence of government funding the stunning success of the 2015 performance program is a huge tribute to Brian Chatterton’s inspirational leadership, the extraordinary talent of the artists, the skill of the technical staff, and the dedication of Co-Opera’s supporters, especially the wonderful Friends and loyal sponsors.
Our touring productions were Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Cosi Fan Tutte under Tessa Bremner’s and Nicholas Cannon’s exhilarating and gifted artistic direction and Brian Chatterton’s brilliant leadership and musical direction.
  • We started in April with what has now become a traditional opening performance at historic Anlaby Station. This was the launch of the 2015 performance of Cosi to great acclaim and a sign of terrific things to come.
  • The first tour of the Eastern States with Cosi took in 7 performances in April in Melbourne, Dubbo, Tumbarumba, Forbes, Walcha, Merimbula, and Gunnedah;
  • The tour of the Flute in June took in Casterton, Ballarat, and South Morang in the eastern states, and it was also performed in Roxby Downs, Penola and McLaren Vale.
  • The Adelaide performances of The Magic Flute and Cosi Fan Tutte were held as usual in ThEOS on 23/24 May and 13/14 June with excellent ticket sales and standing ovations on all nights. Congratulations go to all concerned.
  • 2015 also saw the establishment of the Intermezzo series, an initiative designed specifically to provide significant developmental opportunities for young Adelaide singers. The inaugural series of four performances of Verdi’s Il Trovatore and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro challenged our artists (singers and guest conductors) and delighted Adelaide audiences in ThEOS in November and December. Congratulations go to Brian Chatterton for this huge achievement and highly successful initiative. 
Friends and Benefactors
I wish to pay a special tribute to the wonderful people who are the Friends of Co-Opera. The Friends continue to be the loyal support backbone of the Company and create the sense of community and camaraderie which makes Co-Opera so special. Our heartfelt thanks go to all the Friends who, amongst a myriad of other things:
  • help set up at ThEOS and other venues
  • provide raffle prizes
  • help sew and repair costumes
  • paint and restore sets
  • run and support fundraising events
  • billet interstate singers
  • run front-of-house.
Without this untiring support and goodwill, Co-Opera could not continue to engage and develop young and experienced artists, nor could regional and remote communities experience the first class operatic performances that Co-Opera brings.
The Company expresses its great gratitude to the Friends’ continuing enthusiastic support and acknowledges the Friends as one of its great strengths.
Our generous benefactors and sponsors are critical to our ability to continue to share the riches of opera with audiences that have limited access to this vibrant art form for geographic and other reasons. In this parsimonious funding environment where Co-Opera has not received any Government grants for years now, we are especially grateful to:
  • the Henkell Family Trust for their strong financial commitment over many years;
  • the Adelaide Showground for their on-going sponsorship and support through the availability of ThEOS;
  • the Royal Commonwealth Society, through their support of the RCS Ensemble, the orchestra accompanying Co-Opera performances;
  • SA Power Networks for their on-going commitment to workshops and performances in Roxby Downs; and
  • the generous individuals who are our donors – benefactions received in the Public Fund for the calendar year 2015 totalled over $52,000 of amounts between $5000 and $30.  We are immensely grateful to each and every one of these wonderful people; long may their generosity continue.
Financial Situation
Co-Opera continues to face significant survival challenges and there is no doubt that the support of our sponsors (particularly the Henkell Family for their financial support), benefactors, and the contribution made by the Friends of Co-Opera is critical to our survival.  Efforts to find alternative sources of funding through philanthropic organizations and corporate sponsors were unsuccessful in 2015 but continue to be a major focus for the Board of Management.
Public Fund Committee meetings were held in May and July.
Relationship Building
  • I would like to pay a special tribute to Board Member Judy Clarke who has established a remarkable network through her regular updates to members of Parliament (state and federal) and significant community officers such as the Mayors of Port Adelaide/Enfield and Unley. There is no doubt that, through her untiring efforts, she has raised awareness of Co-Opera and set the scene for greater familiarity with our Company and its objectives. Her efforts resulted in, amongst other things, a meeting with the Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Arts Minister, and the availability of spaces in Port Adelaide for Co-Opera’s use.
  • In 2015 Co-Opera made submissions to the National Opera Review and the Senate Enquiry into the effect of Budget Decisions on the Arts. Those submissions are accessible on Co-Opera’s web site.
  • Co-Opera continues to make the most of social media in promotion of its activities and our thanks go to Sidonie Henbest who managed Co-Opera’s FaceBook pages in 2015 and Andrew Fergusson who manages Co-Opera’s web site.
I wish to thank all the members of the Board for their support and efforts in 2015. I particularly thank Sara Lambert whose term as an Employee Nominated Member ended after several years of outstanding contribution to the Board. Congratulations go to Nicholas Cannon who has been re-elected, and welcome to Deborah Johnson who has been elected for the first time.
I also wish to thank our distinguished Patrons, Thomas Edmonds AM and Elizabeth Campbell for their continued support.
Barbara Fergusson
Chair, Board of Management

Thursday, April 21, 2016
<![CDATA[Co-Opera’s Roxby Downs Tour, May 2016]]>Fri, 10 Jun 2016 02:40:58 GMThttp://co-opera.com.au/news/co-operas-roxby-downs-tour-may-2016Picture
The opera tradition continues in rural mining town, Roxby Downs, South Australia.
By Karina Jay, Soprano at Co-Opera: Opera on the Move.

The Workshop

On the morning of Friday May 27, Brian Chatterton and seven Co-Opera singers including myself sat down at the Dunes café in Roxby Downs to plan the final stages of the special schools Mikado workshop. Being the only singer in the group who had participated in the previous year’s workshop, I had a more solid idea of what the day would involve, whereas the others weren’t quite so sure what to expect. Confirming my expectations, Brian talked us through exactly what the Roxby Downs schools workshop would involve: firstly a truncated run through of the opera The Mikado which we would be performing in the town the following night, and then we would be teaching the children some songs and actions from the opera. “But surely that is too much for them to learn in one afternoon,” exclaimed some of the workshop singers, doubtful of how it was all going to work. Surely these primary school children couldn’t learn and MEMORISE songs in both English and Japanese, plus the choreography that goes with them, in one afternoon!

Another of the singers had more confidence in them, saying, “You don’t know what children can do – they are like sponges. They’ll pick it up in no time.” And she was right – just a few hours after that meeting, the primary school children of Roxby Downs had learned three chorus numbers from The Mikado, including actions. At the end of the workshop when the classroom teachers asked the children who would like to be involved with the concert the next night, they were mobbed by a gaggle of enthusiastic volunteers.

Many of the children remembered Co-Opera’s previous visit in 2015, when they had the opportunity to be involved with Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Going straight from a classic Mozart opera into the ridiculous pantomime of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado, was a great contrast to show to the youngsters. The Mikado may be set in Japan; however, it becomes evident that the creators Gilbert and Sullivan in fact intended to mock British society and government through their farcical theatre work. Royalty and class systems, cowardice, pretentiousness and true love are among the main themes of the ludicrous plot.

The children of Roxby Downs were able to see how comical opera can be through The Mikado, and there are great hopes from all sides that the town might get to experience further contrast still through the dramatic themes of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Co-Opera’s 2017 touring opera.
Feedback from the students on The Mikado schools workshop:
“My favourite part was the introduction of all the characters and what they do. I did the workshop last year, I reckon this year’s was funnier; I liked all the interaction.”
  • Erin, Roxby Downs primary school student
“I thought it was really good and interesting and it was a good experience.”
  • Peta, Roxby Downs primary school student

The Performance

After a full, fun day of workshopping, singing and dancing, those couple of Co- Opera workshop singers who had been apprehensive about how the day would go were more than satisfied, in fact, they had been inspired by the children just as much as the children had been inspired by us. On Friday evening, the rest of the Co-Opera touring troupe arrived after a long and treacherous drive through storm and gale from Adelaide. After a hearty dinner at the pub, we all made our way to the hall for our rehearsal with the local choir and were pleased to see that many familiar young faces from the workshop had returned to be involved with the evening rehearsal.

The Roxby Downs performance on May 28th was to be the final show in a tour which had kicked off in early March, a tour which had stretched all the way from muggy, stormy Monto in mid-north Queensland to chilly Lismore, Victoria. After this escapade of a tour, the Co-Opera singers knew their Mikado parts back to front, and decided to have a bit of fun (perhaps a little too much fun) during the casual run through of the opera with the choir and children at Roxby Downs. Our director may have given us singers and our frivolity a frown or two during that rehearsal, but it can’t be denied that it was a wonderful experience again for the children there to observe how much fun we singers have on stage, and that although we work hard to get where we are, all of us absolutely love our job.

It is worth mentioning at this point that we did not have the Roxby Downs orchestra play with us this year like they did for The Magic Flute last year as I understand it, the main reason for this was that a number of the budding young instrumentalists who played with us last year are now attending boarding schools in Adelaide on music scholarships. With the rehearsal done and dusted, we had a lovely and relaxing day in Roxby on Saturday, and in no time the theatre doors were open. Our last performance was one of our best, with energy heightened and our sound broadened by the participation of the community choir and children. The choir and workshop students dressed for the occasion in concert blacks, and the kids stood perfectly on cue when their turn came to sing and dance along with us. Photographs and autographs followed our last hoorah on the Mikado set, and, wonderfully, after the performance we had some of the older school children asking us about the opera profession and discussing stagecraft techniques with us.

Particularly for those of us involved with the schools workshop on the Friday, the whole Roxby experience was memorable and truly significant – the truth is, as we realised, children ARE like sponges. They soak up skills, culture, ideas, art; the fact that they are, as ever, so receptive to our art, the performing arts, is beautiful to see. We know that when young people are exposed to many different experiences and art forms, those experiences can help to shape their entire lives. Through Co-Opera, the kinds of cultural experiences the children of Roxby Downs have had so early in their development are diverse and special, and whether later in life they decide to stay in their home town or move to bigger areas, they will carry those memories and experiences with them, and with their rich cultural background, they will in turn enrich the world and lives of others around them.
Comments on the performance of The Mikado from singers in the community choir.
 “This is my first time doing opera, I mean we sing on Sundays at church, but this has been a really great experience.”
  • Shyamali, singer in Roxby Downs choir
“It’s just been such a pleasure, I’ve never done opera before, I’ve never even been to an opera before so to me it’s just so, so special.”
  • Sue, singer in Roxby Downs choir
“Forget any ideas you may have had that Gilbert and Sullivan Operas are fusty, outdated remnants of the Victorian era. This Mikado, directed by Richard Trevaskis does not have a dull or a dud moment. I laughed throughout the entire show, both at the witty dialogue and the reactions and interaction among the singers.”
  • Review by Emily Sutherland, 5MBS, 10 May 2016

Workshop and rehearsal photographs by Lester Wong Production photographs by Thomas Wiedenmann
<![CDATA[Submission to the National Opera Review]]>Fri, 29 Jan 2016 04:27:38 GMThttp://co-opera.com.au/news/submission-to-the-national-opera-reviewMs Barbara Fergusson, Chair Board of Management
Mr Brian Chatterton OAM, Artistic Director/General Manager
Co-Opera Incorporated

In making this submission Co-Opera expresses its appreciation of the Discussion Paper’s thoroughness and wisdom, especially in identifying the issues which, if addressed, will result in the Major Opera Companies operating in an environment of strengthened artistic quality, expanded access and alleviation of growing financial pressure.
Co-Opera’s submission is in relation to the issue of how the Major Opera Companies should operate and, in particular, what approach should be adopted to regional touring and should it be required of all companies? Our submission is based on Co-Opera’s extensive experience in the field of touring opera: starting from our first performances at the Royal Adelaide Show in 1991/1992 we embarked on our first regional tour [of Pagliacci] in 1993 for Country Arts SA and from those beginnings Co-Opera has taken opera to rural and regional parts of Australia every year since then.  From the very beginning, and as a matter of principle, our objective was to present high quality, fresh, accessible and entertaining opera performances to regional, rural and remote communities while at the same time providing first-class training and unparalleled artistic experience for talented young artists.
The Discussion Paper identifies regional opera touring as “a specialised skill if it is to be done well.”  In general, Co-Opera has repeatedly found that rural and regional communities:
  • expect and appreciate high quality opera productions that take their circumstances into consideration;
  • do not want to be treated as a second class audience;
  • appreciate a less formal, more accessible style of production; and
  • understand that they can’t have the same service as capital city audiences but would nevertheless expect a high quality, and preferably purpose-built, annual event.
In presenting opera to regional and rural Australia, therefore, the translation that a Major Opera Company has to make is not only from the “capital city proscenium arch environment”; the translation also requires an understanding of the specialised nature of bringing opera to these extraordinary communities and how to turn a performance in a small theatre, leagues club, or even a barn into a special event. Under no circumstances is it an “add-on” to, or even adaptation of, the city performance.
The issue that has been identified, and which Co-Opera wishes to address, is whether this specialised skill in producing high quality productions for regional Australia should be required of all companies or whether focussed activity would produce a higher quality and more cost effective outcome.
Co-Opera’s view, in summary, is that a focussed activity is essential in regional and rural touring, and that the focus must be on
  1. providing a quality opera experience to the regional and rural communities of Australia that do not have access to this art form, and
  2. establishing a touring opera structure that provides a training role for young artists.
We address each of these matters in turn.
1          Providing a quality opera experience to the regional and rural communities of Australia that do not have access to this art form
The first consideration in achieving this objective is to set up a system that takes into account the geographic reality of Australia. It is clear that the country is simply too big for one company adequately to meet the need and also deliver a service at an acceptable standard. At best, one company could present the same opera around the country and take 3 years to do it, so regional and rural areas are visited once every 3 years. This means that only once every 3 years would there be a new opera to tour. The country deserves, and expects, better than this.
The next consideration is to set up a system that understands the reality of touring and the flexibility required to present opera in a range of venues, to audiences that may not be familiar with city opera conventions, and to communities that will be reluctant to pay high ticket prices. It is also evident that Major Opera Company touring over recent years has been to major population centres, regional cities, not true regional and rural locations. This focus on larger centres is understandable; a Major Opera Company naturally has an urban audience focus and it is bound to be more successful in the major regional cities. And their productions are inevitably scaled down city productions but still too large scale in a production sense and therefore only affordable in larger communities.
Exhibit 6.138 lists the Regional Touring towns visited in 2014 by the Major Opera Companies. They are, by and large, regional cities with hardly a small town visited. Yet Co-Opera knows that there is significant demand in towns with less than 20,000 people. The Attachment lists the towns visited by Co-Opera over the period 1993 to 2015[1]. Genuine touring has to provide a service to many communities, of all sizes, across the country.
What is required is a system that has:
  • production houses that are small enough and flexible enough in their approach to production development to fit comfortably into the context of rural to regional sized Australian communities; and
  • sufficient production capacity to cover the geographic spread of regional and rural Australia.
In reality, a Major Opera Company (even its touring arm) is too big and too expensive to go to a town the size of Merimbula or Yackandanda, where Co-Opera has toured successfully over many years. The production has to be designed, not retro-fitted, to fit into a performance space that fits 200 people and meet the needs of small and large communities.
Finally it is a given that, regional, let alone rural, touring of opera is expensive. As outlined in the Discussion Paper, regional touring by Opera Australia and Opera Queensland have resulted in significant negative contributions financially. This cannot be sustained. A touring system is therefore required that minimises infrastructure and performance costs, while at the same time offers a credible service to country Australia. A feasible model is a risk-spreading arrangement (that works effectively for Co-Opera) which requires the town to purchase the production and provide marketing (core marketing package prepared centrally), venue, and booking office, at locally determined ticket prices. The key factor is the extent to which the production is subsidised so that the purchase price is affordable to the local community. Co-Opera finds that this is an effective model as it not only provides for a sustainable risk sharing engagement with opera but also encourages local sponsorship.
Co-Opera therefore proposes the principle that a structure be established whose sole purpose is to tour opera to regional and rural communities in Australia. It would do so by:
  • Providing a centralised, cost effective administration;
  • Managing and coordinating the requisite number of core artistic and production “teams”: Musical Director/Director/Designer and organising joint auditions;
  • Setting the opera programmes, depending on the number of “teams” – it is envisioned that there would be a cycle of operas, depending on the number of “teams” and that these operas would be presented such that all participating communities saw a new opera every year; and
  • coordinating a tour programme and schedule which meets the needs of the communities.
2.            Establishing a touring opera structure that provides a training role for young artists.
There is no doubt that the Young Artists Programme and programmes to nurture emerging professional practitioners related to the field of opera such as designers, conductors, and stage managers play an important role in the development of opera in Australia and the Major Opera Companies are to be commended for their commitment in this area. However, what is not generally understood is the opportunity for effective and comprehensive training offered by, and inherent in, touring outside the capital city environment.
A structure such as the one proposed above would be immensely valuable in providing artistic apprenticeships, primarily for singers but also other touring personnel.  It would:
  • enable systematic training opportunities for young and emerging artists;
  • increase the number of performances in which they could exercise their talent;
  • provide a rational framework for identifying a supply of performers for the Major Opera Companies; and
  • add another dimension to the commendable development programs already established by some of the Major Opera Companies, such as the State Opera of South Australia’s Young Artists Programme, for example.
A systematic training component of the touring body is essential because:
  • It provides an innovative way for young artists to obtain experience for more challenging roles;
  • contributes to the cost effectiveness of the touring body;
  • creates a level of artistic energy and excitement unique to young, passionate and talented performers; and
  • ultimately contributes to the artistic vibrancy of the Major Opera Companies as these young talents are recruited into roles other than chorus.
As has often been said, touring opera is expensive; when the majority of the troupe are genuine trainees, on an approved training wage, costs are significantly mediated. The singers’ training component would be 8 trainees with each opera - 2 of each voice type. Plus, to make the training most effective, the major roles are taken by experienced top line performers, resulting in a powerful and refined apprenticeship system. As such, there may well be other sources of funds to assist in this training element.
How would it work?
At the outset it is important to state that this proposed new Opera Touring structure is not a complex bureaucracy requiring extensive funding. Essentially, it would be a small central administrative secretariat (possibly only 1 FTE) with the task of coordination of the touring troupes to ensure that the regional and rural touring objectives are being met in terms of artistic standard, geographic spread and community demand. It would do so by way of low cost innovative communication and Cloud technologies, with corresponding and reciprocal commitment and coordination by the participating troupes and their support groups such as Friends’ associations. This kind of structure not only sustains good coordination but, having more than one troupe providing the service to regional and rural communities, also promotes healthy artistic competition and distinctive production standards.
The troupes themselves would be independent self-managed organisations that specialise in touring opera. In addition, companies such as Co-Opera have well established Friends groups who support the organisation in fund-raising, provide voluntary assistance for events, and help keep costs down.
Co-Opera would be very keen to contribute its expertise and experience to assist in making this new development work, should that be the Minister’s wish.
“The National Opera Review was established by the Federal Government to consider the financial viability, artistic vibrancy and audience access of Australia’s four opera companies that are recognised as major performing arts companies and are supported by the Federal Government …”
In this submission, Co-Opera contends that, in order to have financially viable and artistically vibrant touring opera that provides for audience access in regional and rural Australia, the establishment of a new purpose-built system is essential. Such a development would be a significant outcome of the Review, and enable the Government to make a major announcement about a new thrust in opera that recognises its commitment to initiatives in training and, at the same time, its drive to enhance cultural and community services to country areas of Australia.

[1] Attachment: Co-Opera’s Performance Coverage to 1993 - 2015

<![CDATA[Senate Enquiry into the effect of Budget Decisions on the Arts:]]>Mon, 28 Sep 2015 00:24:23 GMThttp://co-opera.com.au/news/senate-enquiry-into-the-effect-of-budget-decisions-on-the-arts1 Dear Senator Lazarus

About Co Opera Inc.

Co Opera Inc. is a small Adelaide based, not for profit, opera company formed 24 years ago, for 2 purposes:
1.       To take professional opera performances to regional Australia.
2.       To offer professional development opportunities for young graduates and young talent, in voice, music, directing, producing, lighting, technical and stage management roles.

  • Our cast , orchestra and technical support are all paid, but the majority of our organisation are volunteers.
  • We received Playing Australia funding up until 3 years ago, when it was suddenly removed, we subsequently lost funding from Arts SA.
  • We have continued our focus on young developing talent and touring in the regions, but on a much reduced scale.
  • We have sponsorships from:  Royal Adelaide Agricultural and Horticultural Society, SA Power Networks, The Henkell Family Trust, The Royal Commonwealth Society and some small individual sponsors and donors.
  • We are currently working to add further sponsors to this list.
  • The Friends’ of Co Opera are all volunteers and work very hard to fund raise for the organisation.
  • We know that towns and rural organisations which once felt confident to underwrite and offer our performances to their communities now find paying for our appearances too high, without the subsidy which we were once able to offer.
  • Our prices, depending on the opera being offered, size of cast and number of musicians, vary between $13,000 to $20,000 per performance (where once it would have been $6000 to $10,000)

Basic Position:

  • Co-Opera may be alone in supporting Senator Brandis’ move to redirect Australia Council funds towards new arts initiatives. As part of this strategy, we would support a return of the management of the Playing  Australia touring program to the Minister’s Office which is how it has operated for most of the life of the program.          
  • We are of the opinion that the Australia Council holds a noble bias in its dispensing of funds, favouring Australian works and new repertoire. Unfortunately, when funds are scarce, and they have never been more scarce than now, this bias operates disproportionately against companies who concentrate on the preservation of long and distinguished traditions of heritage performing arts practice in Australia.
  • In short we believe that heritage performing arts practice has a better chance of equitable consideration of funding if there is another instrumentality in Australia dispensing resources than the Australia Council alone.
  • We live in a pluralistic society.....monopolies are discouraged in most forms of commercial enterprise. We believe similar principles should apply in arts funding in this country.


  • Co Opera, like many similar small arts organisations, provide the training and experiential opportunities for our developing talent, so that they are able to find professional work in the larger State and Federal Arts companies. Our ability to offer such professional support is limited, without appropriate sponsorship or subsidies, which then impacts on availability of appropriately experienced Australian performers for the larger companies‘ productions.
  • A number of our talented performers and directors have found work or further training, with overseas arts organisations, on the basis of their professional association with Co Opera. With limited professional development opportunities come limited interstate or overseas opportunities for our talented performers.
  • Regional towns in Australia, are not well served with professional opera and arts performances and Co Opera has a long tradition in touring exciting, up lifting performances to these communities.  We see ourselves as enriching audience’s experiences as well as training talented performers!
  • With the limited funds we have available, our touring schedules have decreased and towns where we once performed every couple of years are not now able to fund us.  We all lose.   See Attachment 3
  • Opportunities to offer professional and exciting operatic experiences to audiences that have very limited exposure to this art form can have important effects on regional populations.  See Attachment 4
  • Our visits to Roxby Downs have encouraged the school choirs and orchestra and local choral society and musicians to come together to participate in each opera we have performed there, after practicing the score for several months before our arrival.
  • Our visit to White Cliffs [NSW] – population 80 – resulted in 200 people in the audience and a group of artists  creating 10 paintings, on the opera theme, for sale after the performance. $3000 was raised for the community that night.
  • The importance of opera in enhancing the wellbeing and vibrancy of a rural community is something we know well, but are less able to offer now, with decreased financial support.
  • As an organisation, we fear for the loss of opportunity for talented people able to produce wonderful moments for audiences, and society losing the cultural and emotional enhancements that access to wonderful music and singing can offer.

Thank you for this opportunity to present to your Committee.

Yours Sincerely

Co Opera Inc.

Judy Clarke


<![CDATA[Co-Opera’s Roxby Downs Tour, May 2015 – The Magic Flute]]>Sat, 13 Jun 2015 01:59:41 GMThttp://co-opera.com.au/news/-co-operas-roxby-downs-tour-may-2015-the-magic-flutePicture
The growth of art and culture within a regional community
by Karina Jay

Primary School Workshop

Many pairs of bright young eyes watched intently, mesmerised as a truncated version of Mozart’s The Magic Flute played out before them, performed by several singers from Co- Opera: Opera on the Move. With its funny, lovable characters, the wonderful, fantastical story of The Magic Flute is one that can be loved and appreciated by all.

The school children of St Barbara’s and Roxby Downs Area School are not as new to the world of opera as you may expect a group of 8 – 12 year olds from a rural mining town to be; many of the children remembered Co-Opera’s regional tour of Madama Butterfly, which travelled to Roxby last year, and some remembered seeing Die Fledermaus prior to that. Though some children had experienced opera before and others had not, all of the primary school students in the workshop group were enthralled and entranced by the magical music of Mozart and the many colourful characters that appear in The Magic Flute, in this case demonstrated by just five singers from the cast performing several roles each (with some very quick costume changes). The workshop gave the children a quick idea of the fairy-tale storyline, with snippets of the most memorable arias and ensembles.

One of the children’s favourite parts of the afternoon was when they had the opportunity to learn a small chorus number, movements and all, and come up and join the Co-Opera singers on stage to sing it. The level of enthusiasm was uplifting and encouraging to see; to think, that these young children from a small outback community could find so much joy and excitement in participating in our art form which is so often thought of as “elitist”. The highlight of the afternoon for us singers was without a doubt when our wonderful Musical Director Brian Chatterton asked the children “Who thinks they might like to come along and see the whole opera tomorrow night?” and almost every hand shot up into the air.

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<![CDATA[AGM Report from the Chair of the Board]]>Thu, 16 Apr 2015 03:02:27 GMThttp://co-opera.com.au/news/agm-report-from-the-chair-of-the-board Annual General Meeting
Co-Opera Incorporated
Thursday 26th March 2015 at 6.00pm
Chairperson’s Report

Performances and Tours

Despite a shorter than normal tour and some unexpected difficulties the 2014 touring production of Madama Butterfly, under Tessa Bremner’s inspired and inspiring artistic direction and Brian Chatterton’s monumental music direction, was an outstanding success.

  • The Eastern States tour took in 10 performances in April and May in Melbourne, Dubbo, Forbes, Walcha, Coffs Harbour, Merimbula, Yackandanda, and Casterton with standing ovations being the norm in recognition of stunning performances, excellent host feedback and some of our best attendances ever;
  • The South Australian tour included Roxby Downs and Penola. It is worth noting that the Roxby Downs performance and the all-day workshops occurred purely because of the generous sponsorship of SA Power Networks. We are very pleased to note that 2014 was the first of a three year commitment from them.
  • In April we performed for the first time at historic Anlaby Station. Another outstanding success – black tie, dinner in boxes in the garden, and the performance in the Clydesdale stables, again to standing ovation. We were extremely pleased to welcome our benefactor, Hans Henkell, to this performance. We were also pleased to read an extremely positive report of this performance in Maggie Beer’s Newsletter.
  • The Adelaide performances of Madama Butterfly were held as usual in ThEOS on 16th and 17th May with excellent ticket sales and standing ovations on both nights. Congratulations go to all concerned.

We were also pleased to support through the website, the ThEOS venue and front of house three performances of Nick Cannon’s Mopoke production of Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief for the Fringe.

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<![CDATA[Triple Treat from Co-Opera in 2015]]>Mon, 29 Dec 2014 00:47:55 GMThttp://co-opera.com.au/news/triple-treat-from-co-opera-in-2015
In 2015 thanks to the ongoing support of The Henkell Family Trust, Co-Opera will be presenting, three exciting productions, a remarkable achievement given the Company currently receives neither State nor Federal public funding. The trio of 2015 offerings will begin with Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte followed by The Magic Flute, and finally in association with The Gilbert and Sullivan Society of SA, with a season of the all-time favourite operetta, The Mikado. 

The Company’s opera calendar will be launched on Saturday 11 April 2015 with a performance of Cosi fan tutte at SA’s historical Anlaby Homestead. Co-Opera’s debut performance at Anlaby Homestead in 2014 was a wonderful evening and following that success patrons will be welcomed back to enjoy the fun of Cosi coupled with a pre-show dinner box and drink or a walk around the tranquil gardens. Nick Cannon’s engaging and witty production of Cosi fan tutte will then travel through SA, Victoria and NSW in April/May, and will include the 20th consecutive performance for The Limestone Coast Festival in Penola and the 15th performance in 18 years in Merimbula, NSW. These invaluable long standing associations and the depth of the ongoing commitment to the company from these communities makes these performances very special and are always a highlight for the artists and audiences.

Co-Opera’s internationally acclaimed Magic Flute, freshly re-staged with irresistible humour, is a feast for the eye and ear as it sparkles anew under Tessa Bremner’s skilful artistry.  The fine cast includes some of Co-Opera’s favourite singers and is richly enhanced with rising stars and new faces, not least of which is Eddie Muliau, arguably Australia’s finest Sarastro. Performances of Flute will be held in June in SA and Victoria and plans are progressing to take the production to Qingdao, as the company works towards broadening its regular touring into mainland China.

Another exciting new undertaking for Co-Opera is the recent creation of the RCS Ensemble. The generous support of the Royal Commonwealth Society enabled the formation of this ensemble to play for the main production performances and also enables them to present chamber music performances in their own rightCo-Opera and the RCS are committed to providing performance and professional development opportunities for its instrumentalists as well as its singers. The company is privileged to have the ensemble led by the inimitable Wendy Heiligenberg. They can be heard at the Adelaide performances and will be no doubt be a highlight for communities during the touring seasons.

Co-Opera would not exist without the loyal support of its sponsors, volunteers and dedicated artists. The hard work and deep commitment of The Friends of Co-Opera is crucial to the survival of the company.  Also crucial to Co-Opera’s existence, is its long standing relationship with The Henkell Family Trust, who in addition to generous financial support also provide unwavering commitment to the ethos of the company and to the importance of its work.

2015 is shaping to be a busy and fun-filled year for Co-Opera as it, against all odds, delivers opportunities for artists and affordable and intimate opera experiences for audiencesCo-Opera has been described as a ‘vital cornerstone of opera in Australia’ and with these exciting 2015 offerings it continues to provide the important links between SA and Australian artists, the profession of opera and audiences. Co-Opera welcomes you to join in the magic and fun!

<![CDATA[December 24th, 2014]]>Wed, 24 Dec 2014 03:45:40 GMThttp://co-opera.com.au/news/december-24th-2014 Providing rich operatic experiences for developing young artists has always been at the forefront of our minds when choosing program content for Co-Opera. Ever since our first public performances in the Royal Adelaide Show of 1991, we have lived by a maxim of regularly including the operas of Mozart in our repertoire for exactly that reason: no other composer provides such a comprehensively challenge from an artistic, dramatic and vocal technical perspective. As my 1970’s mentor, Myer Fredman [first resident Musical Director of SOSA, former Director, Glyndebourne Touring] used to say, “If you know thoroughly all the Mozart roles of your voice type you are ready for anything……Verdi, Puccini….even Wagner”! It is a great paradox that Mozart is widely appreciated for his “sweet Viennese music” whereas his operas give singers AND instrumentalists artistic, technical and interpretative qualities that make them the Ironman Olympians of the performing arts world.  

We do have a particularly talented generation of young Adelaide singers in Co-Opera at the moment. They have sung Suor Angelica, Die Fledermaus, Madama Butterfly with Co-Opera but not Mozart in any concentrated way. Thus it’s high time we revisited our popular productions of the Viennese master. 

In November, December and January we will be rehearsing The Magic Flute and Cosi fan tutte until Mozart is seeping out of our pores. Walk past a Co-Opera singer and they will be radiating Mozart.

In April/May we will tour Cosi to SA/VIC/NSW, kicking off with a return to Analby on Saturday, 11 April. In June we will perform The Magic Flute in SA/VIC, returning first on 17 May to McLaren Vale for the wonderful STARS group. Nick Cannon’s burstingly funny interpretation of Cosi will play in Adelaide in mid-May and Tessa Bremner’s internationally acclaimed scaffold production of Flute will play in Adelaide in mid-June. We also have our eye on a small season of Flute in Qingdao, Mainland China later in June. Fingers crossed that the stars align on that one.

See you at an Adelaide show, a bit North [Anlaby] or a bit South [STARS]…..or at all three! That way you’ll hear ALL of our singers.

Brian Chatterton