“It is beyond our comprehension,” say Gale Edwards, Julie Lynch and Brian Thomson that they aren’t in charge of the remount.

Gale Edwards, who directed the 2013 Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour (HOSH) production of Carmen for Opera Australia, and designers Brian Thomson (set) and Julie Lynch (costumes) have issued a press statement criticising Opera Australia for refusing to invite them back to oversee the current remount of the production, which opens on Friday.

Carmen, Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour. Photograph © James Morgan

It is highly unusual for a creative team to issue a statement of this kind, particularly in the world of opera where revivals are more often than not restaged by an on-staff revival director. “It is beyond our comprehension how any professional company or artistic director would exclude the core creatives in such an important revival,” they said.

This is the first time that a HOSH production has been revived (read the 2013 Limelight review here). The original choreographer Kelley Abbey has been brought back to work with the two new alternating casts.

The full statement from Edwards, Lynch and Thomson reads:

“In 2013, between the three of us, we conceived, directed and designed Opera Australia’s Handa Opera production of Carmen on Sydney Harbour.

This Friday March 24, Opera Australia will present this production again. As the key Creative Team we feel it is important that the press and public understand that neither the director (Gale Edwards), set designer (Brian Thomson) nor costume designer (Julie Lynch) have been invited back to oversee the re-mount. 

It is beyond our comprehension how any professional company or artistic director would exclude the core creatives in such an important revival, especially when we have made multiple overtures to the Company offering our services to remount this much-acclaimed interpretation of Carmen.

Therefore, we advise that we cannot guarantee the work’s integrity, or that the public will see the production as it was originally intended to be.”

In response, Opera Australia has issued a statement which reads:

“Opera Australia, like many other major international opera companies, stages revival productions every year. It is common practice around the globe that directors are very rarely engaged to remount their original productions, and even more rare for set or costume designers.

In keeping with this practice, Opera Australia employs a wealth of talented directors and craftspeople who painstakingly and lovingly present these productions as true to their original format as possible.

Opera Australia’s current Sydney Summer Season included all revivals, La Bohème (Gale Edwards), La Traviata (Elijah Moshinsky), King Roger (Kasper Holten), Tosca (John Bell) and Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci (Damiano Michieletto). All revivals, and all presented by revival directors to great acclaim and accolades, and one of our most successful seasons to date.”