Lyndon Terracini refuses press tickets for two senior critics in response to negative articles.

Opera Australia’s Lyndon Terracini is far from shy about publicly rebuffing his critics. Just last September he locked horns in an online spat with the Head of the School of Music at the Australian National University, Peter Tregear, over an article criticising the “conservatism” of Terracini’s 2015 season for Opera Australia. Now it has emerged that the outspoken Artistic Director has requested the removal of two senior critics from the complimentary press tickets list for Opera Australia’s 2015 Sydney Summer Season.

The Sydney Morning Herald’s music critic Harriet Cunningham learned in early December that she would no longer be welcome at Opera Australia performances when an OA publicist described Terracini as “very offended” by an article she authored, published on Crikey’s arts website, Daily Review, entitled ‘Why I’m Not Going to the Opera Next Year’. In the article Cunningham describes Terracini’s 2015 programming decisions as “patronising and disingenuous” adding that Terracini was guilty of a “shameless give-em-what-they-want approach.” Cunningham has had a close association with Opera Australia for several years and has been regularly commissioned to write program notes for the company since 2006. Cunningham was requesting tickets to Opera Australia’s production of Gounod’s Faust in February, to review the performance for the Sydney Morning Herald, but was told that the OA Press Office would “speak to Joel Meares (Arts Editor of SMH) about an alternative.”

On Friday, the opening night of Julie Taymor’s The Magic Flute, Opera Australia’s first production of the season, a second highly-respected critic discovered that they too had been removed from the press tickets list. Author of the Stage Noise blog, former Bulletin arts editor and Limelight theatre reviewer Diana Simmonds learned via email just hours before the performance that “in response to some of your recent writing about the company, Lyndon has requested you be removed from the media list.”

Simmonds has been similarly outspoken with her criticism of Terracini’s 2015 offering, specifically her concerns about the decision to cast shock-jock talkback radio host Alan Jones in the company’s up-coming production of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes.

Despite Terracini’s attempts to bar Cunningham and Simmonds from performances, colleagues and supporters of the two accomplished journalists have rallied. In an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald website on Sunday, Arts Editor Joel Meares stated that “The Herald’s position is that the paper will not have our critics chosen for us by companies, and Cunningham, whether with a comp ticket or one that The Herald purchases, will review Faust for our readers.”

After publishing an article revealing that she had been banned from attending Friday’s performance of The Magic Flute, Diana Simmonds was contacted by several people offering her a ticket to the show including “a number of singers, two directors, a designer, a librettist and a couple of disgruntled long-term subscribers.” Simmonds’ review of Taymor’s production, posted Saturday morning on the Stage Noise website, was almost unanimously positive, and by a twist of fate she ended up sitting in the same row as Lyndon Terracini for the performance.

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