State Opera South Australia has today announced that Artistic Director Stuart Maunder AM will conclude his time with the company in mid-2023 before taking on the role of Artistic Director at Victorian Opera towards the end of next year.
During his impressive four-year term, Maunder has re-invigorated the flagship South Australian arts organisation and brought it back as a major contender on the national stage. A master of light and shade, Maunder has shown that any serious opera company can find a place for wit and satire and still worship at the altar of great music. His programming has seen rich pickings from Puccini and Verdi, to Britten, Rogers & Hammerstein, Sondheim, Gilbert & Sullivan, and ushered in a golden age of Australian opera on the main stage.
“These past four years have been some of the greatest times in my career and I am incredibly proud of what we have been able to achieve – despite the challenges of a global pandemic. I leave State Opera South Australia poised on the brink of an exciting new chapter in its nearly 50-year history, grateful to have played a small part in shaping one of the country’s truly unique companies,” said Maunder.
From the beginning of his term in Adelaide, Maunder was adamant that the people of South Australia deserved more opera, and he delivered. From the outdoor spectaculars of Carmen in the Square and Bohème on the Beach to stunning chamber works and thought-provoking presentations of the grand opera canon, audiences have flocked to experience the special brand of magic he has brought to the stage.
The period has seen State Opera take a stand on Australian talent – proudly presenting all-Australian casts and many long- overdue homecomings for the country’s in-demand ex-pat artists such as; Morgan Pearce, Helen Sherman, and next month Lauren Fagan and James Roser.
Alongside his passionate advocacy for developing and celebrating Australian artists, he has played a pivotal role highlighting the vast and often undervalued canon of Australian opera. A personal passion was turned into a strategic commitment, Maunder’s inaugural season for State Opera in 2019 included a series that “found” lost Australian operas and returned them to stages, singers, and audiences. The “Lost Operas of Oz” program struck a chord and became synonymous with the man and the company, culminating in the revival of “the great Australian opera” Voss in May 2022 –brought to the stage with long-time colleague and outgoing AD of Victorian Opera, Richard Mills AM.
Maunder joined State Opera in 2018 at the same time as Executive Director Yarmila Alfonzetti (recently appointed CEO of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra) with the mission of securing the company and indeed the artform in South Australia’s future. The Maunder-Alfonzetti era has been one of courageous and clever leadership, as they re-invented opera in South Australia.
With the search for a new Executive Director in its final stages, the company will await the ED’s arrival before starting the process of finding new artistic leadership.
“During my time at State Opera, I have been blessed with a Board and a company whose passion and advocacy for the art rivals my own. I must acknowledge our outgoing Executive Director, Yarmila Alfonzetti who was absolutely in tune with building this company, flying the flag for the very simple idea that we are here to entertain and employ. The company’s successes have only been possible because of the team we have been able to assemble – the artists, creatives, production and administrative staff, who have worked tirelessly to bring our vision into being, and I’m proud to still be part of that team for the next year,” Maunder said.
John Irving, Chair of the State Opera Board said that Stuart’s artistic leadership and directorial contribution over the last four years has been immense and that his legacy will be part of State Opera for many years to come.
“It has been a privilege to work with Stuart and Yarmila over the last four years. It is tribute to the company and its success over that time that both have been headhunted to major companies in Brisbane and Melbourne. We wish them the best and look forward to their future success. State Opera South Australia will now embark on this next period excited by the opportunities that flow from changing these senior roles. We look forward to announcing the new Executive Director very soon,” Irving said.
Prior to his appointment at State Opera in 2018, Maunder was General Director of New Zealand Opera, Artistic Administrator and later Executive Producer at Opera Australia, and a staff director for The Royal Opera House in London. Alongside his administrative roles, he has an extensive collection of musical theatre and opera directing credits in Australia, UK, France, and USA spans three decades. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2012.
Maunder’s term at State Opera comes to an end in mid-2023, and he will commence his new role at Victorian Opera in October 2023 ahead of the departure of current Artistic Director, composer-conductor Richard Mills AM at the conclusion of 2023. His final works for State Opera will be announced over the coming months. ENDS.