The June 2019 issue of Limelight is now available from fine book stores and select news agencies.

From the editor

Jo Litson
Editor of Limelight

In April, the Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University and Opera Queensland held the inaugural New Opera Workshop (NOW 2019) in Brisbane. According to reports from the conference, the frustration of women opera creators at the lack of gender parity boiled over, prompting a call for new leadership and changes in Australian opera.

The situation has improved massively in Australian theatre over the last decade, as Jane Howard recently explored in a detailed analysis for the ABC. Widespread scrutiny was triggered when Neil Armfield stood on stage to launch Belvoir’s 2009 season with a line-up of directors, only one of which was female. The situation was reignited when Darlinghurst Theatre Company launched its 2016 season of six plays, all directed by men and only two written by women. What’s more, two of the plays featured all-male casts. As a result, there was much debate, policies were put in place, and things improved. In 2019, women make up 47 percent of playwrights and 58 percent of directors on our main stages.

Writing from NOW 2019 for Witness, Alison Croggon said that many women considered the conference to be a “galvanising moment”, similar to the 2009 Belvoir launch. The statistics for women as composers, conductors and directors in classical music and opera are indeed dismal. However, at Opera Australia the situation is gradually improving. In 2019, 15 percent of leading creative roles at OA are now taken by women. For instance, OA’s newly commissioned opera about Brett Whiteley features a score by Elena Kats-Chernin.

In this issue, read our feature about how Elena and librettist Justin Fleming have set about putting the life of the enfant terrible of Australian art on stage. We also interview superstar Lang Lang in New York ahead of his Australian concerts, as well as our own piano whiz Jayson Gillham who is readying himself to play all of Beethoven’s piano concertos in Adelaide. And in the wake of the terrible Notre Dame fire, Paris-based writer Mélissa Lesnie explores the iconic cathedral’s rich musical history.

The features

The return of Lang Lang

Catching up with the global phenomenon in New York, Clive Paget discovers how the Chinese pianist develops those bold interpretations and learns a few of the things, both personal and professional, that have made an older and wiser Lang Lang into a more rounded artist.

Whiteley: The Opera

The enfant terrible of the Australian art scene is the subject of a new opera. Elena Kats-Chernin and Justin Fleming talk about translating a colourful figure to the stage.

Grand Old Lady of Music

An iconic place of worship, for centuries Notre-Dame de Paris has been a pillar of French culture. Having watched it burn, Mélissa Lesnie explores its musical history

Beethoven and me

Jayson Gillham explains how Beethoven is the centre of his musical existence and how he is finding a lot of himself in the composer’s music and story.

A chorus of approval

In 1989, Lyn Williams formed Sydney Children’s Choir. She discusses the 30-year history of Gondwana Choirs and next month’s Gondwana World Choral Festival.

A finger in every pie

Anthony Warlow on finding his theatrical mojo again as he tackles the dark, razor-sharp title role in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Special offer

Since its inaugural concert in 2011, the talents of the Australian World Orchestra have impressed audiences at home and abroad. This year on July 26, one lucky Limelight subscriber will join the AWO at Arts Centre Melbourne with two premium tickets to a concert of Nigel Westlake’s Flying Dream, Janáček’s Taras Bulba and Sibelius’s Second Symphony, with internationally renowned conductor Alexander Briger.

After the concert, the winner and their guest will be able to meet members of the orchestra and mingle with other music lovers at a gala reception.

The lucky winner will also be treated to an overnight stay at Sofitel Melbourne On Collins on Friday July 26 and will enjoy buffet breakfast for two at No35.

The Regulars


Pinchgut Opera triumphs on world stage

What I'm Listening To

Violinist Nemanja Radulović

Five Questions for...

Oboist Diana Doherty

Around the world

Australian Chamber Orchestra conquers Big Apple

Guest Column

Avner Dorman on writing for the Zukermans

Guy Noble's Soapbox

Post Notre-Dame, who can claim to be fireproof?

Opera Column

Stuart Maunder on the Lost Operas of Oz

Did you hear about...

Wagner fire-fighting in the nuddy?

Backstage with...

Baritone and actors Brett Brown

World Premiere

Brett Dean's four-handed swipe at social media

Greta Bradman

The musicians who like to talk to the animals


Pipa virtuoso Wu Man


Mezzo and director Brigitte Fassbaender

Composer of the Month

Australian Romantic Modernist, Richard Meale

Musical Journey

Heidelberg: still fit for a student prince


This month's round-up of everything worth experiencing in dance, theatre, visual art and film

Broadcast Guide

The best of classical music and arts across ABC and independent stations this month

Digital & Cinema

The best of classical music and arts in Australian cinemas, and what's available online this month

Recording of the month

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