The Friends of the State Opera of South Australia Incorporated

President’s Report

Forty First Annual General Meeting

Sunday 9th April 2017

‘More than any other art form opera draws on many of the resources that make us human: our physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual dimensions’ Joyce DiDonato

It is with great pride that I am able to report and reflect, as President, on 2016, the Fortieth Anniversary of both the State Opera of South Australia and The Friends.

Throughout its anniversary year State Opera excelled yet again with a season of outstanding productions, from the innovative Magic Flute, sponsored by The Friends, to the triumphant and magical world premiere of composer George Palmer’s ‘Cloudstreet’ the opera; from its winter series of new works in the Opera Studio and the romantic and gorgeous Puccini Spectacular in the Adelaide Town Hall, to the five star triumph of the glorious Tosca in the Festival Theatre. As Friends and subscribers we were privileged to witness yet again the strength, talent and commitment of our State Opera company to creative and performance excellence and proud to continue to work to support them in all their endeavours.

As you are aware The Friends of the State Opera of South Australia was established 40 years ago by a dedicated and passionate group of opera lovers determined to help keep opera alive and thriving through the creative work and life of the State Opera.

Their vision was to assist and support the State Opera in all its activities, programs and productions; to raise funds for the benefit of the Company and to raise funds to support and sponsor the professional development of Young Artists associated with opera in South Australia. In addition they determined to provide assistance for the development of interest in opera and the Company, and to increase, through their activities and programs, the interest, knowledge and involvement of members in opera, the Friends and the Company.

So, what is our report card forty years on? Have we remained true to the intention, spirit and integrity of our ‘founders’, have we, together with State Opera, achieved the vision- so far? In reviewing the Friends work and activities over the last year in particular I think we can safely attest to not only achieving those goals but to having brought them to life with energy, creativity and passion.

In 2016 The Friends showed their support for the State Opera through sponsoring a main stage production, the Magic Flute, for $30,000; through staging fundraising and social events for members with the ‘Toast to Forty Years’ 40th Anniversary Celebration in the Opera Studio, the Day in the Hills lunch and recital at Ngeringa (now Ukaria) Cultural Centre, and Lunch in the Courtyard at Coriole winery, as well as through their support and front of house presence in the Opera studio events as well as with ever fun and bubbly Friends Bar.

In addition The Friends have, in collaboration with State Opera, increased involvement and knowledge of members through, not only our Newsletters, but also the successful and long running Opera Voices Introductions held prior to each State Opera production. What better way to get involved in ‘The Friends’ than over a glass or two of wine and supper in the Opera Studio?

In support of professional development The Friends have continued to provide individual sponsorship to Young Artists. Last year we were delighted to sponsor Repetiteurs Mark Sandon through attending the Lisa Gasteen Summer Opera School in Queensland , as well as Penelope Cashman whom The Friends assisted in attending the ‘Bel Canto In Tuscany’ course. Both have attested to the immense value of these experiences. The extraordinary talents and hard work of all our Young Artists are our ongoing inspiration and it gives us great joy to see them perform not only in the Opera Studio but also in main stage productions before moving on ultimately to the world of opera nationally and internationally.

We are, in addition, constantly grateful to the wonderful James and Dianah Ramsay Foundation Opera Program that gives so generously to State Opera in support of our Young Artists

‘The Vision’ of those original Friends could not have been achieved without the tireless and extraordinary work of the Friends Committee members who have been the core and heart of the organization for many years. In addition to organizing fundraising and social events they continue to give generously of their time and resources in staffing the Friends Opera Studio Bar and other events in the Opera Studio. For their continued dedication, loyal commitment and generosity I give my heartfelt thanks.

May I also add my sincere and grateful thanks to our Patron, His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC Governor of South Australia for his continuing patronage and to both he and Mrs Le for so generously hosting the 40th Anniversary Reception for The Friends at Government House.

As I come to the end of my term as President I would like to take this opportunity to recognize and thank, for his creative and outstanding leadership, State Opera SA CEO and Artistic Director, Timothy Sexton. His extraordinary energy, talent and vision continue to inspire and lift our outstanding company to new heights. In addition I wish to thank the amazing State Opera SA staff of Deb, Nigel, Jess, Judith, David, and everyone on the team who assist, support and enable The Friends in all their efforts. They continue to amaze us with their dedication to and hard work for the company! We are all the beneficiaries.

As we look ahead I am confident that, like any true friend, The Friends will stand by and work for that which they value and care for passionately, both in good and in challenging times. The Friends will continue to support the State Opera to reach their goals and vision, as well as endeavor to nurture, assist and care for the professional development of our Young Artists, who are the future of both our company and this extraordinary art form.

Finally I wish our new President, Robina Weir, the Committee, the Friends and of course, the State Opera of South Australia every success . For this opportunity to serve you in my role as President I thank you all. It has been a privilege.

Pauline Brooks OAM

Past President, The Friends of the State Opera of South Australia Incorporated