Opera Australia drops its concertmaster

Opera Australia drops its concertmaster


norman lebrecht

August 16, 2022

The violinist Jun Yi Ma has left Opera Australia with immediate effect after a stormy meeting in which he refused to accept a reduced pay deal.

Ma, 50, had been in conflict with colleagues and the company management for a couple of years. He refused to play in Phantom of the Opera and to work with certain conductors.

He occupies what is said to be Australia’s highest paid orchestral position (conductors excepted, of course). OA confirms he has left. There has been no word from Ma.

More here.


  • Donny Zetti says:

    The fact that Ma refused to play Phantom of the Opera should at the very least tell us something about his musical integrity. He saw the commercial imperative for what it was. Opera is not musical theatre. If his ostracism was the result of his role in the removal of certain players in the pandemic rationalisation process, well that’s another thing altogether.

  • Gerry Feinsteen says:

    Seems like he dropped the opera is another way to put it; fair.

  • Wotan Buñuel says:

    The continuing decline of Opera Australia is both very sad and a cause for national shame. After 40 years of being a passionate opera goer I have decided that I will not subscribe next year. Some of that is because the etiquette of the house has declined so severely that I couldn’t even enjoy Traviata free of insistently texting tourists and Opera Australia basically blamed me when they could have fixed things with a comp to hear the opera in peace. They don’t care about their audience. The decision not to re-subscribe is heavily influenced by soaring prices with quality and repertoire in a correlating decline. The orchestra has been treated shoddily. I totally sympathize with Mr Ma not wanting to work on Phantom. Even as musical theatre it isn’t a particularly good piece. To consign an artist of Ma’s standing, integrity and artistry to work on this cynical cash grab really is an insult. We once had a great opera company. At best we have a mediocre company now. RIP Opera Australia. Thanks for the memories.

    • BigSir says:

      For an orchestra member to try to pick and choose what he wants to play makes him just a prima donna. Imagine if we all did that in our jobs?

  • Australian says:

    Jun has always been difficult to manage as a concert master. Anyone who has worked directly with Jun can vouch that he is famous for avoiding leading all commercial, family, outdoor concerts or frankly any repertoire that he isn’t interested in (even the terms of his contract requires him to). He is also well known amongst Australian orchestras for being a divicive personality. Excellent violinist, brilliant businessman.

  • Michael O'Loghlin says:

    Retired symphony orchestra musician here. Orchestras have all sorts of artistic and other committees where you can discuss the artistic direction, but on the night your job is to play what’s in front of you. Fortunately I never had to play Phantom and I would have hated it, but I have no sympathy for a musician who’s artistically too posh to play it. Opera Australia is probably faced with the dilemma: present musicals to make some money, or refuse to present them and die.