Opera house bans two critics

Opera house bans two critics


norman lebrecht

January 02, 2015

Lyndon Terracini, hyper-sensitive artistic director of Opera Australia, has told two women writers that they are persona non grata at his opera house.

Harriet Cunningham of the Sydney Morning Herald, received this email from a media flak:

Hi Harriet

Lyndon is very offended following your article earlier this week – I’m sure this comes as no great surprise. So no, I’m afraid we’re not able to offer you any further comp tickets.

Diana Simmonds of StageNoise was told:  In response to some of your recent writing about the company, Lyndon asked that you be removed from the media list.


Who’s next?


  • Matthew says:

    That man will do anything to lose an audience, even if he has to ban them one by one.

  • Eva Maria Jaddick says:

    Em…. Did he not think the fact that these were two female critics might engender some bad publicity?!!!! Am I alone in thinking this? A bit of an own goal, I think.

  • Mark Stratford says:

    Well since Harriet’s piece is called “Why I’m not going to the opera next year”, surely it’s not a problem that she’s not allowed comp tickets ?

  • Andrew says:

    Why is it a ban if he simply stops giving them free tickets? They can buy tickets all they want now and write whatever incendiary things they think should be printed. I don’t really see why he owes them free tickets if he feels they aren’t writing in good faith. They don’t have a “right” to freebies.

  • sdReader says:

    Wow. How dumb! Don’t they realize these messages will be made public? That they will appear to be trying to control the coverage? That all the reviewer has to do is buy a seat? That the opera house belongs to the government and the people?

  • Nick says:

    I believe it is counter-productive in the long run to ban critics. A performing arts company still needs the support of the paper in other areas than mere criticism of performances.

    On the other hand, having been through that article by Harriet Cunningham, it is a particularly vicious hatchet job. To suggest “the directorial input is about as narrow as it has ever been” when there are two productions by SIr David McVicar and one by Elijah Mojinsky (whose name she cannot even spell correctly) is surely larding it more than somewhat. However, it is the personal attack on Mr. Terracini that goes over the top. I wonder how the head of any opera company would like to be described as “a goat-loving, bum-baring, hippy type”.

    Yet she starts by giving the impression that she doesn’t in fact get free tickets, instead being one of the loyal “cash cows” – i.e. those who pay for tickets. “I’m starting to think that Lyndon Terracini is playing us for fools. ‘Us’ being his core audience, his loyal cash cows, the rusted-on Operati who faithfully turn up to whatever gets served up at the big white pointy building in the middle of the harbour.”

    Admittedly at the very end she does confirm not only that she does indeed get free tickets but that she has been paid by the company to write for their brochures for TEN straight years. Rather than ban her, I’d have thought the Company should just have cut of her earnings and got someone else to write their brochures in future.

    • John says:

      Actually Nick, you seem to be the one who cannot spell Elijah Moshinsky’s name correctly!!

      • Nick says:

        It seems both spellings are common in Australia and elsewhere as a google search now shows. Australian reviews of his 2011 Opera Australia Traviata use Mojinsky as do various opera archives and productions. Even the official website of the Royal Shakespeare Company uses Mojinsky. But I happily withdraw that remark.

    • Nigel says:

      “Elijah Mojinsky (whose name she cannot even spell correctly)”

      “Mojinsky” – who he? Harriet Cunningham spells Elijah Moshinsky’s name correctly.

      Nick – I don’t think Cunningham’s article is an unwarranted hatchet job. She has looked at an amazingly unimaginative programme and made the useful point that subscribers – the audience the company largely depends upon – have seen most of these productions before, and want something different (and a lot more interesting). She’s right to point out the cynicism of this kind of programming, and that aiming for wall-to-wall greatest hits is actually a disincentive to regular opera goers. It resembles a season put together on the back on an envelope by someone who only likes a couple of dozen operas. And Cunningham knows that Terracini is capable of doing something much better than that – and gives credit for some of the more innovative work that he is doing.

      Frankly, I don’t think she’s going to be devastated to be deprived of comps for the 2015 season…

  • Billy Bob Baggins says:

    There’s nothing good to see anyway. There are better Opera companies in Sydney.

    • The ghost who sings says:

      Precisely. It will be interesting to see what sort of year the independent companies (Pinchgut etc) have.

      Up to now, there have been no winners.

  • Alize says:

    He is not banning them! Secondly, there are always two sides. Reviews should never be banned or sensored, but that’s not what he did here- he simply isn’t supplying free tickets, which are a courtesy of the company. Totally fair. Also, opera reviewers can be some of the harshest because it’s treated more like going to a horse race than a work of art; an elite class fest. That’s not what it is or should be, and its dying because it’s treated as such.

    • Marshall says:

      Right no one is being banned-they are just not getting free tickets. Maybe that was an expected, and reasonable practice in an earlier age, but let them pay like the rest of us. In the NYC area there are so-called critics for marginal publications, virtual bloggers who get them. I have a certain admiration for the scam-but given the price of decent opera tickets, maybe at this point everyone-especially “critics” should pay. (papering and freebies are a different concept, and serve a different purpose)

  • Maria Nockin says:

    The critics are simply being told that they will no longer receive free tickets in return for their work. If they want to buy tickets and write on what they saw, then still can. Probably they will not, however. They already have their revenge because the head of the opera company already looks foolish for removing them from the Media List. The opera company usually looses that kind of battle.

  • Nikki says:

    Bravo Lyndon!

    Why on earth would anyone feel the need to be so insultive, in the media, to an Artstic Director who has not only paid his dues but has put together some of the best teams ( Western Sydney Community Choir of over 450 voices) for the joy, love and Passion of La voce!

    The insolence of said woman – so called professional writer…

    Maybe Lyndon should seek Legal advice for Defimation of Character!

  • Greg Hocking says:

    These two seem miffed that they might have to actually-shock horror-buy tickets in order to slag off one of the few opera companies that is growing in the current climate.Entitlement lives!

  • Marguerite Foxon says:

    However you look at it, he does seem to be hypersensitive. He also seems rather tone deaf to what the loyal opera public have been complaining about for the last couple of years … people are now not renewing subs. Perhaps he believes he is attracting a new cadre of opera goer although the recent 50% sale on the most expensive seats would make me wonder.

  • D.R. says:

    dreadful, unprofessional on behave of the company.

  • John Harding says:

    BRAVO!!! My sincerest congratulations to Lyndon Terracini for this long overdue act. Its a pity more arts managers have not had the same courage over the years. As Sol Hurok allegedly remarked “critics are to music as pigeons are to a monument”. If they are not prepared to play their role in this symbiotic relationship, then replace them with someone who will.

  • Matthew says:

    Let the war begin!