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Opera's Boost Applauded

ISSUED BY THE NBR NEW ZEALAND OPERA

MEDIA RELEASE

Friday, 29 August 2003

OPERA'S BOOST APPLAUDED

The NBR New Zealand Opera has welcomed today's announcement from Creative New Zealand that the company will receive a substantial increase in its funding. The increase means the company will receive $1.15 million per annum for the next three years - an increase of 45% on its current quota - and New Zealanders can look forward to seeing more opera as a result.

General Director of The NBR New Zealand Opera, Alex Reedijk, said that funding for opera from Creative New Zealand had remained relatively static for the last nine years. So therefore this increase was most welcomed and had come after the company had successfully increased its audience numbers and productions in 2003.

"This year we have proved there is a growing appetite for opera in New Zealand, signaled by significant growth in audience numbers, up by 40% on previous years," he said. "Creative New Zealand has responded positively to our bold new initiatives in 2003, which has seen us move towards a national company model. This includes a national tour, development of new New Zealand opera work and the start of a multi-opera season template."

One of this year's new endeavours saw The NBR New Zealand Opera embark on the first nationwide tour by a New Zealand opera company in over 20 years, with The Barber of Seville travelling to 12 centres. This winter tour saw 17,500 people experience opera in their own backyard and was enthusiastically supported with the regions calling for a return in 2004.

The Creative New Zealand funding will now enable The NBR New Zealand Opera to maintain an annual national tour of popular opera. It will also enable the company to sustain and develop the composition and production of new New Zealand work - such as this year's production of Michael Williams' The Prodigal Child - providing a voice for New Zealand stories to be expressed on the opera stage. The company also moved to increase the number and variety of opera productions on offer this year, including the semi-staged production of a Handel opera, Acis and Galatea alongside the mainstage productions of Boris Godunov and Tosca.

Mr Reedijk acknowledged that with more funding, much more can be achieved. The increase means there will be positive flow-on effects through the industry to singers, orchestras, venues, directors, designers and technical staff, as the company develops its multi-season template. It will also enable the company to entice more New Zealanders currently overseas back here to work or perform as well as attract international talent he said.

"The company took several leaps of faith this year to strongly signal our determination to take opera forward," said Mr Reedijk. "We are grateful to all those who shared our vision - our loyal benefactors, sponsors, funding bodies and enthusiastic audiences who have come out and supported us. We are delighted that Creative New Zealand has acknowledged these initiatives, which in the immediate future will allow us to give audiences more choice and nurture more young New Zealand talent."

"Ultimately this funding boost allows us to do more of what we do well - tell more great stories through the magic of opera, and take it to more people."

The NBR New Zealand Opera will announce its 2004 season in late October.

Ends.

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