Simon O’Neill ONZM
“Last month Wellington was treated to a production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni by a brand new and administratively lean opera company run by musicians for musicians. Against all recent trends they produced a full opera and made a profit. Eight principal roles (performed by the finest New Zealand talent), Wellington Opera Chorus, and Orchestra Wellington were engaged. Full opera, full chorus, full orchestra. I am overjoyed that a good many artists performing in an opera after spending years of training for it got work and income (instead of needing to apply to Work and Income). As usual Wellington audiences gave huge support to the production. Bravo!
“Unfortunately, however, that story is unusual in the national opera landscape in recent years, where the opera gatekeeper is measured on all sorts of grounds (new audiences, innovation and “reimagination”) but not measured on how much money they actually spend on artistic output or how many artists they helped keep the wolf from the door. There is no publicly available measure that I can find which shows how much of the arts funding an organisation has spent on the relevant artists rather than administration. It seems that it doesn’t matter if you have a staff of over 20 administrators yet stage one-singer “operas” – you’re still considered to be delivering. …”Simon O’Neill
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