Peter Coleman-Wright, the renowned Australian baritone who was recently appointed as Artistic Director of Canberra’s new National Opera, officially launched the company tonight in an event at Canberra’s National Portrait Gallery.

Since National Opera still has to apply for government funding and secure more philanthropy and corporate support, Coleman-Wright announced a small program for 2020, telling Limelightthat he needs to take “baby steps” to ensure the company is financially viable before programming bigger seasons.

Peter Coleman-Wright, the Artistic Director of Canberra’s new National Opera. Photograph © Adam Ulrich

In December, the new company will perform Puccini’s La Rondinewith Canberra-born soprano Lorina Gore – who sings regularly with Opera Australia – in the title role. The production will be directed by Kate Gaul, conducted by Stephen Mould, and performed in Llewellyn Hall at ANU.

One of Puccini’s later works, and one of his least performed, the story is not wildly dissimilar to Verdi’s La Traviata, centring on a jaded Parisian courtesan Magda (“the swallow” of the title) and her love affair with the handsome young Ruggero. Other lead characters include Magda’s feisty, impetuous maid Lisette and her lover, a poet called Prunier.

“It’s not...