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Opera review wants govt out of musicals

AAP logoAAP 25/10/2016

Anything goes when opera companies decide what to stage but the government shouldn't be funding musical theatre with commercial appeal.

A national opera review says it's perceived as unfair when Opera Australia's long-run musicals compete with other commercial productions because it gets government funding and access to major venues such as the Sydney Opera House.

The review, which made 118 recommendations, says Opera Australia shouldn't be stopped from putting on musicals, but that government funding should go to "non-commercial activities".

The review panel was also concerned about the double whammy for Australian opera singers of a declining number of roles available and an increase in international artists.

"The impact on Australia's community of established operatic singers - whether they are based in Australia or overseas - has been profound," the review states.

"Many experienced singers claim they cannot maintain 'artistic match fitness' with only erratic performance opportunities available."

It recommends opera companies be required to tell the government how many Australian and international artists they employ and the number in leading roles each year.

Fines of up to $200,000 could be imposed on companies that don't reach an appropriate balance between use of Australian and international singers.

The reviewers suggest 80 per cent of leading roles should be filled by Australian singers, but say that's "a trigger for a conversation".

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