A new Churchill Fellowship report by David Barnard shows there are significant attitude barriers that prevent young Australian opera singers finding job openings in Europe.
Barnard, formerly Head of Music at State Opera of South Australia and now a freelance pianist and repetiteur in Melbourne, undertook a seven-week study tour of European opera houses. He found that opera directors there do not take seriously Australia’s place in the opera world or its potential for producing singers.
“There’s a lot I am embarrassed about and take on board personally when I talk to opera industry leaders in Germany, France and Italy,” Barnard said in a Churchill Trust news update. “Australia is still not truly on the opera radar internationally and is regarded by many as third rate, which is devastating to me, considering all the other industries for which we excel in and have proven international leadership of.”
In an ArtsHub piece, Barnard quotes the director of the Academy of the Paris Opera, Myriam Mazouzi, on how likely an Australian singer would find a position there. She told him: “None – there are so few places and the standard is so high across Europe, why would we even consider looking to Australia? In Europe, Australia is not regarded as a country for opera and we would most likely spend the whole time bringing the Australian artist up to standard in the basics of style and language first – we don’t have time for this”.
Barnard’s full report is expected to be shortly posted on the Churchill Trust’s website.