Big bequest sets Canberra Opera on a professional course

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Peter Coleman Wright at the Arboretum in 2014 singing “The March of the Toreadors”. Photo: Helen Musa

CANBERRA Opera is to receive a $500,000 bequest and is already planning a more professional future, according to local music sources.

It is believed that the organisation will use the windfall to develop a more professional profile and that it is looking to engage as artistic director the celebrated Australian baritone Peter Coleman Wright, who, with his wife, the soprano Cheryl Barker, is familiar to Canberra audiences through performances at “Voices in the Forest”.

But while the bequest is common knowledge in the Canberra singing community and the company has been quietly engaging personnel and setting up media dates with Peter Coleman-Wright, so far Canberra Opera has remained tight-lipped, beyond a hint in its  latest newsletter that “there will… be a major announcement about the company in early December following our Christmas concert”.

The newsletter also reports: “International opera singer Peter Coleman-Wright AO has expressed an interest in our company and will be in Canberra from December 10-12,” adding that the company will put on a showcase “so he can hear the talent that exists in Canberra so he might foster and grow it with us”.

Canberra Opera, ‘Gianni Schicchi’ cast 2019. Photo: Michaella Edelstein

Canberra Opera is an amateur organisation which was started in 2011 by David and Margot Reedy as the modest “Canberra Opera Workshop” (COW). The company incorporated in 2013 and is now run independently, often presenting opera and musical theatre to audiences in non-traditional venues.

Its productions have become more ambitious in recent years, with a very successful season of Puccini‘s “Gianni Schicchi” and Mascagni’s “Cavalleria Rusticana”, in August.

Canberra Opera is not to be confused with a company of this same name that ran from 1974-1984 with many mainstage operas at the Canberra Theatre, nor with Opera ACT, which succeeded it and last performed in 1991.

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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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