The last few weeks have been filled with google searches, fb messaging and learning how to use Wikipedia.
It all began harmlessly enough, an old friend asked me if I remembered what she was up to in the VIctoria State Opera in the early 90’s.
Surprisingly my memory was pretty good but I needed to check so my old friend google was very tempting. Unfortunately, I didn’t find that much at all about the VSO apart from a pithy and annoying entry in Wikipedia:
“Not to be confused with Victorian Opera (Melbourne). The Victoria State Opera, based in Melbourne, Australia, where it was founded in 1962 as the Victorian Opera Company, collapsed in 1996 due to financial difficulties. At this point, the former Australian Opera merged with this company and renamed itself Opera Australia, taking on the responsibilities of performing opera in both the states of Victoria and New South Wales. More recently, the Victorian Opera has been formed with funding from the Victorian government to provide an opera company for Melbourne and Victoria.”
I was amazed and saddened to see that the hard work and achievements of this great company had been reduced to such a miserable epitaph.
Not on my own….no I needed to find reliable sources including former MD Richard Divall, former VSO Repetiteur/ Conductor Graham Cox and now Margaret Haggart is going to fill in more blanks plus of course lots of googling. I would like to enhance the entry with much more detail ie opera performances listed per season, notable performances, notable cast members etc.
Why do I want to do this after so many years? I have no agenda here, nothing to gain personally apart from my desire to correct what I see as an injustice to the memory of the VSO, once one of Australia’s most prestigious opera companies.
The modern age of the internet is a wonderful thing but the downside is that if you are not online in a way it never happened. This is a simplistic way to look at it but in many ways is sadly true. Sadly the VSO disappeared just before the Internet took hold. Hopefully, all of the members of the VSO group can correct that
The best finds to date are the recordings from the 70s & 80s found by Graham Cox in many ways purely by chance. They are all recordings made by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and broadcast on the ABC, the Richard Cottrell collection of photos on his website of his productions of Tannhäuser (1989) designed by Kenneth Rowell conducted by Richard Divall and the Andrea Chenier (1988) conducted by Richard Divall and last of all the ABC simulcast recording of the complete Don Giovanni (1986) by John Copley conducted by Richard Divall found on YouTube complete:
Which include a 76 Maria Stuarda with Australian Divas Nance Grant and June Bronhill conducted by Richard Divall, a 1985 Lohengrin starring English tenor, Alberto Remedios, Nance Grant, Noel Mangin, Geoffrey Chard, David Brennan and Karen Bureau, conducted by Richard Divall with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
The very best part of this journey has been creating a fb group and reconnecting with old friends and many people who I had either heard of or who I had read about from the VSO. The deluge of information was amazing. All in all it has been such a worthwhile experience…..looking forward to many more discoveries and who knows what?
James Hancock, London, June 2013
- Victorians honoured in Queen’s birthday list (abc.net.au)