Lyndon Terracini Photo: Josh Robenstone
OPERA Australia's Lyndon Terracini has signed with the company for another five years, using the occasion to call for a further easing of limits on international stars performing here.
To get around the limits, the company is helping eight international opera singers gain Australian residency.
They include Mexican tenor Diego Torre, now appearing in Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera, and Italian soprano Daria Masiero, who from next week plays Leonora in Verdi's Il Trovatore, opposite American tenor Arnold Rawls.
While Opera Australia does not want to tear up its agreement with the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance as Live Performance Australia has done, Terracini wants further reform.
The union had enforced a limit of 10 international opera singers per season until that number was doubled under Terracini to allow Opera Australia to include the Ring Cycle in Melbourne this year.
''You can't have union restrictions like that [10 a year] and expect to play at the highest level,'' Terracini said. ''No other opera house in the world has that restriction. Not one.
''A lot of [international] singers have said they would like to live here. They love what the company is doing.
''Eight of them are taking out Australian residency at the moment, which is fantastic.''
Rawls said he would love to consider residency in Australia.
The director of the MEAA's Actors Equity section, Sue McCreadie, said the union was willing to be flexible in special circumstances with international performer numbers, such as the Ring Cycle, and confirmed that opera singers accepted as Australian residents were exempt from the rule.
''Our main issue is what opportunities are available,'' she said.
''There are a reduced number of roles available to Australian opera principals this year. We're keen to ensure those principals have sustainable careers.''
Meanwhile, Opera Australia said a report this week that the Houston Grand Opera's decision to pull out as a partner in the Ring Cycle, leaving a $1 million shortfall, was old news. ''It doesn't affect us at all as far as our budget for the Ring in November, so we're fine, we're on track,'' a spokeswoman said.
Terracini predicts Opera Australia will post a greater surplus for last year than the $319,189 figure of 2011, which he attributes to a surge in single-ticket sales.