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Verdi’s great opera Don Carlo set in Spain in the 16th century opened the VSO’s first season in the new State Theatre as part of the Arts Centre complex on St. Kilda Road in 1984. British born spinto tenor Kenneth Collins made his home in Australia and was perfectly cast as the wayward impassioned prince. His closest friend Rodrigo was performed by baritone Malcolm Donnelly who had made an impressive career in Europe before returning to Australia. The opera was brilliantly directed by the legendary John Copley with set designs by John Stoddart and costumes by Kristian Fredricksen. The conductor was VSO MD Richard Divall. The VSO chorus shone in the many fine chorus scenes. This photograph shows the great moment when the tenor and baritone pledge allegiance to each other in one of opera’s most rousing male duets.

A note from Graham Cox
Just a little correction: the Anthony Besch Faust was part of the opening season in the State Theatre in 1984. In fact, although the collective memory seems to have forgotten, it was the first VSO production in the State Theatre. It was actually a revival of a production that had been performed in the Princess Theatre with Richard Divall conducting in 1983(??). The collective memory remembers the new production of Don Carlos and it was, I think, the official opening of the theatre, but somewhere someone must have one of the “Faust got in first” t-shirts!