Barry Kosky hoed into Opera Australia this week, calling it a “disaster” and “a juggernaut out of control”, a view with which may opera lovers would concur.

Fiona Janes is the singer running the campaign against the current management. While she has a personal axe to grind and might reasonably be described as disaffected, she makes much sense. And she’s spot on about the construction of OA chairman Ziggy’s Zwitkowski’s committee to appoint a panel to choose a new musical director.

This is the letter:

Dear Ziggy,

A very interesting piece in today’s SMH regarding the panel that will decide the future of Opera Australia. Might I point out just a couple of glaring problems!

Firstly there is no representative from what you call the side of the “dissidents” or the “democratic” opera side yet six from yours or Adrians.

Secondly, Yvonne Kenny was one of the singers responsible for getting rid of Simone and personally brought Hickox in with a few others. While I have the greatest respect for her as an artist it is true that she has a lot at stake right now — career wise and very much in with Adrian therefore will do anything to accommodate.

Neil Armfeld — Adrian’s favourite director isn’t going to rock the boat.

David Malouf has proved quite openly that he will do anything to tow the line and support the bad decision making of Adrian and the board.

Trevor Green was a Hickox friend and outspoken against the “democrats”.

Jonathon Summers — fine artist but again a fence sitter and pal of Adrian’s.

As Sarah Billinghurst was part of the last decision making I do not have great faith their either — also an Adrian pal and pal of various favourite singers.

The only reasonable choice is Richard Mills.

So in all I’d say the Board has played it very safe for their side and probably got the majority of names from Adrian and his cronies.

I am very aware that senior members of Arts organisation have spoken with you and some have said you must start all over again. The growing distrust for Adrian now is extraordinary so any recommendations he has made will simply be self-serving whereas Kirsti and I expect nothing.

This is a frosted coated panel that will simply do whatever the Board and Adrian want. How widely they canvas and absorb disparate opinion is another thing altogether. I only hope they are able to listen to all sides and all those patrons, sponsors, subscribers, artists and senior members within the artistic community who have been rallying behind the scenes for an honest and fair change.

Frankly I do not believe this to be a true and fair representation of the operatic community. Is Adrian to still rule the roost when the company has failed so miserably artistically and financially under his poor leadership? The question of Adrian not being part of the structure somehow in the background is pure fantasy. How is this improving OA and it’s general public image when he is the problem? You will simply get more of the same. I guess Rowena is still having her way — more the pity.

I was under the impression from you that there maybe some hope for better things — sadly this panel seems purely cosmetic.

Best wishes,
Fiona

Peter Fray

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