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Sydney Opera House

Opera Australia Chronology

1956 The Australian Opera Company presents four Mozart operas in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

1959 First regional tour – Rossini's The Barber of Seville with a small chorus, reduced scenery and piano accompaniment.

1965 The Company joins forces with theatrical entrepreneur J.C. Williamson to present the Sutherland-Williamson International Grand Opera Company with Joan Sutherland, Richard Bonynge.

1967 Establishment of the first Elizabethan Trust Orchestra.

1970 The company's name is changed to The Australian Opera. Carlo Felice Cillario becomes Musical Director.

1971 Stephen Hall appointed Artistic Director.

1972 Edward Downes becomes Musical Director. His first new production is the Australian premiere of Der Rosenkavalier at the Princess Theatre, Melbourne.

1973 Opening of the Sydney Opera House. Edward Downes conducts Prokofiev's War and Peace on the opening night of the Sydney Opera House Opera Theatre.

1974 Joan Sutherland performs with The Australian Opera for the first time, in The Tales of Hoffmann. Three Australian works are performed in this season: The Affair by Felix Werder, Lenz by Larry Sitsky and Rites of Passage by Peter Sculthorpe.

1976 Richard Bonynge becomes Musical Director.

1977 Opera Australia's younger parent company, Victoria State Opera (VSO), is established as a successor to the Victorian Opera Company.

1982 The ABC and The Australian Opera present their first live simulcast, of Strauss' Die Fledermaus, reaching an audience of more than 2 million. The Australian Opera also presents its first Esso Opera in the Park in the Sydney Domain. This becomes the annual Opera in the Domain, attracting almost 100,000 people each year.

1983 Luciano Pavarotti and Joan Sutherland appear in concert in the Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House, with the Elizabethan Sydney Orchestra conducted by Richard Bonynge.

1984 Moffatt Oxenbould is appointed The Australian Opera's Artistic Director.

The State Theatre of the Victorian Arts Centre opens in Melbourne, providing a performance home for the VSO.

1985 The Opera Centre in Surry Hills becomes the permanent rehearsal, administrative and manufacturing home of The Australian Opera.

1986 World premiere at the Adelaide Festival of Richard Meale's opera i, conducted by Stuart Challender and directed by Jim Sharman.

1988 In the Bicentennial year The Australian Opera tours to Brisbane, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney in association with The Australian Bicentennial Authority.

1989 VSO's staging of La bohème, featuring Kiri te Kanawa as Mimì, is televised to more than 500,000 viewers.

1990 Joan Sutherland retires from the opera stage, with farewell performances of Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots for The Australian Opera.

1993 The Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, the orchestral body which provides orchestral partnership for The Australian Opera and the Australian Ballet in Sydney, is integrated with The Australian Opera.

1994 The Australian Opera, in its first ever performances outside Australasia, performs A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Edinburgh International Arts Festival. The Baz Luhrmann production of La bohème is screened over more than 300 North American television stations, followed by world-wide video release through the DECCA group.

1995 World premiere of Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, by Richard Mills and Peter Goldsworthy, presented by VSO in association with Melbourne Festival.

1996 The Australian Opera's 40th anniversary celebrations include Gala Concerts in Melbourne and Sydney and four new productions. The Australian Opera and Victoria State Opera merge to form Opera Australia, after which Lindy Hume is appointed Artistic Director of Oz Opera, which continues the important work of the VSO's touring program.

1999 Moffatt Oxenbould, Opera Australia's Artistic Director for 15 years, announces his retirement. Simone Young is appointed Musical Director Designate, to assume the position fully from 2001.

2001 World premiere of Batavia, by Richard Mills and Peter Goldsworthy, presented in association with Melbourne Festival.

2002 Opera Australia presents world premiere of Lindy, by Moya Henderson and Judith Rodriguez.

2003 The Mastersingers of Nuremberg is staged at the Capitol Theatre 2-19 July.

2004 World Premiere of new Australian work Madeline Lee by John Haddock and Michael Campbell at the Sydney Opera House

2005 Richard Hickox joins Opera Australia as Music Director. Concert performance of Verdi's Requiem conducted by Richard Hickox. Opera Australia donates the entire box office (over $100,000) to UNICEF to assist Tsunami affected countries.

2006 Opera Australia celebrates its 50thAnniversary with a gala concert at the Sydney Opera House, and Open Day at the Opera Centre, and the release of a 50th Anniversary DVD.

The Company joins with ABC Television to produce Operatunity Oz, in which amateur singers compete for the chance to perform in an opera on the stage of the Sydney Opera House.  Over 2000 entries are received and winner David Parkin receives ongoing engagements with Opera Australia.

2007 The inaugural Australia Post Opera in the Bowl is presented at the Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne and, for the first time, Opera on the Big Screen broadcasts performances to live sites in Sydney and Melbourne.

2008  Opera Australia pilots Wotopera, an innovative program in which educators work with high school students as they create, design and perform their own original operas.

2009 Lyndon Terracini is appointed Artistic Director after the sudden and tragic death of Richard Hickox.

2010 Opera Australia presents the world premiere of Bliss by Brett Dean, then tours the production to the Edinburgh Festival.

The company launches Opera on Sydney Harbour – a three-week opera season to be performed on a floating stage moored off the Royal Botanic Gardens in March 2012.

It also announces that it will perform Wagner’s Ring Cycle at the Arts Centre in Melbourne in 2013.  It will be directed by Neil Armfield and conducted by Richard Mills.