Brad’s Blog – After Barber

Following the appointment of Brad Cohen as Artistic Director of WA Opera earlier this year, an email came into my (and every other newsletter subscriber’s) inbox with a note from the man himself. It’s incredibly nice to hear that his two main goals are to (i) renew the repertoire of offer and (ii) to connect with our audience, which is, I think, the point of his personal blog. Hopefully the man will deliver what his predecessor never did, and will marry the need for wide appeal, innovation, and performer satisfaction in his selection of repertoire for future season. Everyone’s very excited to have him around, though we’ll have to wait till October to see him in action with his production of Faust. I for one am plesantly surprised to receive this dialogue – further thoughts on the matter will be shared soon.  Bellow is the text as it appeared in the email I received.

Original version appeared on the 27th March 2015  and is available at ‘Brad’s Blog’


AFTER barber

I’m writing this at my desk in Oxford, having just returned from a whirlwind two weeks in Perth. I was fortunate enough to not only see almost every performance of Madama Butterfly during my time there, I was part of the preparations and enjoyment of City of Perth’s Opera in the Park with The Barber of Seville. In addition, I had lots of meetings with the West Australian Opera team, other arts organisations, Perth stakeholders – and even had time to catch up with some friends and do some swimming.

There is a lot of exciting planning to do for the coming season and beyond with WAO, and I am very clear about my two major goals – to renew the repertoire we offer, and to connect with our audience. This blog is a part of that dialogue, and I hope you will always feel able to write to me with your thoughts and feedback.

In terms of repertoire renewal, I am looking at the performance history of the Company, seeing what areas of repertoire may have been neglected or – alternatively – over-fished. There are some interesting finds in the data: some major operas have never yet been presented by WAO, and others will definitely need a rest before their next outing. But for me as Artistic Director it’s about a designing a fresh, balanced offering, one which plays to both our capabilities (budgetary and spatial) and our potential for continued growth (discovering and introducing singers new to the Company, developing the skills of the artists we have, broadening our range).

I’m working on 2016 with the team at the moment – Carolyn Chard generously deferred some major commitments for next season until I was in post, for which I am very grateful to her. But one consequence is that there is no time to waste! I intend in a future post to describe some of the processes of planning, a black art which is not often shared with opera-goers. But that can wait for next month…it was an enormous pleasure for me to be so warmly welcomed by the Company and management team, and to sit down with them to get into the nitty-gritty of our planning.

In the meantime, I am absorbing the experience of Opera in the Park, thinking hard about what next year should bring for that event, and how best to reach out to the public in Perth and throughout WA.

I recorded an interview with my friend David Parry, the conductor of Madama Butterfly, while he was in Perth. We discussed a wide variety of topics, but I began by asking him about his collaboration on Butterfly with Anthony Minghella:

I hope you enjoy it!

Brad Cohen
Artistic Director