Pinchgut Opera is Australia’s premier Baroque opera company.
We are at the forefront of performing early opera and have pioneered excellence in vocal and instrumental playing in this genre and in historically-informed performance practice.
Early opera is like wine; it comes in a fascinating variety of different styles, genres, tastes and colours.
Before steamships, railroads and mass production, music thrived in widespread but localised centres of experimentation and refinement. As cities became more connected, operas became less varied and more standardised. Pinchgut Opera scours this period from opera's birth to its flowering in the baroque to bring you the very best masterworks from this dazzling and fertile time in music history. No one in Australia is better placed than the award-winning Pinchgut Opera to bring you these works, delivering an auditory experience true to the composer's intention, through a contemporary visual lens.
We began in 2002 with Handel’s Semele, followed by Purcell’s The Fairy Queen (2003), Monteverdi’s Orfeo (2004), Rameau’s Dardanus (2005), Mozart’s Idomeneo (2006), Vivaldi’s Juditha Triumphans (2007), Charpentier’s David et Jonathas (2008), Cavalli’s Ormindo (2009), Haydn’s L’anima del filosofo (2010), Vivaldi’s Griselda (2011), Rameau’s Castor et Pollux (2012), Cavalli’s Giasone (2013), Salieri’s The Chimney Sweep and Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride (2014), Vivaldi’s Bajazet and Grétry’s L’Amant jaloux (2015), Haydn’s Armida and Handel’s Theodora (2016), Monteverdi’s Coronation of Poppea and a Triple Bill of Rameau’s Anacréon and Pigmalion with Vinci’s Erighetta & Don Chilone (2017) and Handel's Athalia and Hasse’s Artaserse (2018). We've also done four wonderful works as fundraisers - Vivaldi's La Ninfa, Purcell's Incidental music to Dioclesian, Mozart's The Impresario and John Lampe's Pyramus and Thisbe.
We are forever grateful to our audience who buy tickets and place their trust in us to lead them on a journey of musical discovery. We especially thank our donors, whose support allows us to continue to present music that inspires.
To ﬁnd out more, contact us on (02) 9318 8344 or email email@example.com
Artistic Director Erin Helyard
Erin Helyard has been acclaimed as an inspiring conductor, a virtuosic and expressive performer of the harpsichord and fortepiano, and as a lucid scholar who is passionate about promoting discourse between musicology and performance.
Erin graduated in harpsichord performance from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music with first-class honours and the University Medal. He completed his Masters in fortepiano performance and a PhD in musicology with Tom Beghin at the Schulich School of Music, McGill University, Montreal. He was named the Westfield Concert Scholar (Cornell University) on fortepiano for 2009-2010 and from 2003 to 2012 Erin was a central member of the award-winning Ensemble Caprice (Montreal). As Artistic Director and co-founder of the celebrated Pinchgut Opera and the Orchestra of the Antipodes (Sydney) he has forged new standards of excellence in historically-informed performance in Australia.
Cressida has returned to the role of General Manager of Pinchgut Opera after a period in London working at the London Symphony Orchestra, joining at the start of Sir Simon Rattle’s tenure as Music Director. Cressida has an established career in performing arts companies, having held roles in philanthropy, learning and engagement, concert management and regional touring in London, at the Australian Chamber Orchestra in Sydney and Victorian Opera and Orchestra Victoria in Melbourne.
Cressida grew up in Canberra and has a Bachelor of Music in cello and Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Masters in Arts Management from Deakin University. After years of moving around, Cressida is pleased to be settled in Sydney for the long-term with her partner and three young daughters.
Artistic Management Alison Johnston
Alison is a founder of Pinchgut Opera and the Manager of Cantillation and Orchestra of the Antipodes. A former school music teacher, pianist, organist and singer, Alison worked as the Concert Manager for Sydney Philharmonia Choirs for 12 years, and has worked on projects from the very large scale (Sydney 2000 Olympic Arts Festival and Opening Ceremony) through to the miniature, working with groups including Hobart and Brisbane Baroque, Opera Australia, Musica Viva, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Sydney, Melbourne and Queensland Symphony Orchestras, City Of Birmingham Symphony Chorus and the London Proms, and with many singers and players across the world.
Operations and Business Intelligence Andrew Johnston
Originally trained as an actor at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in the UK, Andrew has since worked in a variety of roles in the arts: as an actor, writer, production manager, orchestra manager, continuity supervisor, singer, script assessor, website builder and in box office. He was co-Artistic Administrator for the 2016 Brisbane Baroque festival and has also been a course manager at NIDA.
Andrew has worked on every Pinchgut Opera production and has production managed all but three. He also wrote/adapted the English libretto for Salieri’s The Chimney Sweep and the English dialogue for Gretry’s L’Amant jaloux.
Development and Marketing Manager Ilona Brooks
Ilona has over 15 years of experience in media and marketing. Starting her career in her home town of Perth, Ilona worked in the corporate space in mining and property development before relocating to Sydney to manage the head office of Australian Style Magazine. From there, Ilona moved to News Corp as a masthead Brand Manager. Life then called Ilona and her family to the US, where she discovered new skills and passions and freelanced for the next 12 years while raising her young family. Ilona’s role at Pinchgut Opera sees her unite her love of music and the arts, sharing them with the world.
Marketing and Administration Coordinator Alexandra Peek
Alexandra has returned from London after a period with the London Symphony Orchestra working in digital content production across education, concerts and marketing. With a background in music and performance as a pianist, she transferred her love of classical music into training as an audio engineer, recording small classical ensembles and orchestras. With strong skills in digital technologies and production, Alexandra hopes to share her love of music and the arts with audiences and the community.
Norman Gillespie Chair
With A BA (Double Hons) in Music and English Literature, and a PhD at London University in English 17th and early 18th century English Theatre Music, Norman's chances of gainful employment were drastically increased by entering the UK Civil Service to be trained in Finance and Tax legislation. A corporate career followed in oil exploration and telecommunications in BP as Tax Controller of BP Exploration in the North Sea (Glasgow), Head of the Chairman and CEO's Private Office (London), Director of Planning for BP Exploration in the US (Houston), Finance Director of Cable & Wireless (London) and CFO of Optus (Sydney). Combining his passion for the Arts and Business he was appointed CEO of Sydney Opera House, served on the Board of Australian Business Arts Foundation under James Strong and became Deputy Chair of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. In 2010 Norman entered the world of humanitarian and overseas development as CEO of UNICEF Australia and represented the worldwide network of National Committees as Chair at the UN. Currently utilising his experience to mentor and consult with Australian Entrepreneurs and as Executive Director of The Orana Foundation and Co-Chair of the University of Adelaide Scientific Research Committee (Native Food), bringing the extraordinary sophistication of Indigenous food culture and practice to wider recognition. He was appointed to the Board of Pinchgut Opera in 2013.
Virginia Braden OAM
Virginia has experience working in the Arts both in Australia and overseas. She established her firm Arts Management Pty Limited in 1979, providing personal management for over one hundred and fifty Australian and international conductors, instrumentalists, singers, directors and designers. The firm also undertook a range of projects in all fields of the arts including the administration of the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the Portia Geach Portrait Prize for Women and a number of other projects. She handed over Arts Management to new owners in 2008 and is now undertaking freelance consulting. She has been Director of several Boards including Craft Australia, the Seymour Group, The Song Company and was Chairman of the Australasian Association of Classical Music Managers. She served as Deputy Chairman (1999-2000) and then Chairman (2000-2003) of the UK based International Artist Managers’ Association which has a membership of over 500 firms of artist managers worldwide. She was a Director of Opera Australia 2010-2017 and Director of the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) 2010-16. She continued as a member of the NIDA Audit, Finance and Risk Committee until May 2018. In 2013-2015 she undertook a review for the Board of the Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia, making recommendations for the wide reaching update of the Competition and then implementing them in time for the 2016 Competition. She became a Director of the Board in December 2016 and was elected Chairman in 2017. Virginia has provided career advice and mentoring to a wide range of artists and arts managers over a number of years. She is an Honorary Life Member of the International Artist Managers’ Association and the Australian Music Centre. She was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for services to Arts Administration in 2010.
With a Master’s degree of Business Administration (MBA) from the Australian Graduate School of Management, UNSW and a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Nicola has a background in the media entertainment industry with Roadshow Films (Village Roadshow Ltd) with her latest role being Chief Commercial Officer responsible for acquisition and distribution of home entertainment content across Australia and New Zealand. More recently, Nicola was appointed Executive Director of the Zoo and Aquarium Association where she has been able to further employ her skills in strategic business development, commercial planning, marketing, operations and business analytics and insights.
Nicola has held a number of Board Committee and Executive Committee roles including Australian Home Entertainment Association (AHEDA) Digital Committee, Roadshow Films Senior Executive Committee, Risk and Governance Committee and Business Continuity Committee. Currently Nicola sits on the Species360 Board as a member and Treasurer / Chair of the Finance, Audit and Risk Committee, and is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums Animal Welfare Committee.
Mark is Executive Director, Pathways and Partnerships at NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Art). A graduate of University of Queensland and NIDA, Mark has directed plays, musicals and operas for some of Australia's leading performing arts organisations including Sydney Theatre Company, Belvoir Street Theatre, Opera Australia and at NIDA. Mark was Director/CEO of ATYP and has worked in the UK and Germany for The Really Useful Group. He directed live productions for television's Hi-5 which toured nationally and to Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand and the UK.
Anthony (Tony) Gill
Tony is the Chairman of AFG, with a background in the finance industry, mostly with Macquarie Bank. Tony is a Director of First Mortgage Services and First American Title Insurance. He sits on the Board of the Butterfly Foundation for Eating Disorders and is a member of ASIC’s External Advisory Panel. Tony is a former member of the Board of Genworth Mortgage Insurance Limited and the ACO’s Development Committee. Tony holds a Bachelor of Commerce and is a Chartered Accountant (retired).
Monika is a corporate strategy and Mergers & Acquisitions specialist with over 12 years’ experience across industries including consulting, financial services and technology. She is presently Chief Operating Officer of advertising and digital marketing group GrowthOps Ltd with offices across Australia and Asia.
Monika's strategy experience includes senior roles in Group Strategy and Enterprise Services Strategy at Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Prior to this she was a member of CBA’s internal M&A financial modelling team. Before joining CBA, Monika worked as an investment manager focused on emerging markets (particularly Africa), and in M&A advisory at KPMG Corporate Finance.
Monika holds a Graduate Diploma (Chartered Accountants), as well as a Bachelor of Finance majoring in Applied Mathematics and a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting), both from the University of Adelaide. She is also a Level 1 Certified organisational coach.
Monika's passions include mountain climbing and equestrian sports.
Armed with a degree in Biological Anthropology from Cambridge University, UK, John turned his back on primatology and instead spent six years with The Dow Chemical Company, before completing an MBA at IMD in Switzerland. In 1996, seeking more sunshine, he joined Coca-Cola Amatil in Sydney, Australia, where he spent four years as Head of Commercial Planning. In 2000, he joined the Sydney based News Corporation - Softbank vehicle, "e-Ventures", as Chief Operating Officer. Eschewing the corporate world, John then took on the role of Managing Director at a privately owned accessories wholesale business, where he remained for 12 years. He is currently CEO of Krunchbox and has an alter ego as a professional musician.
Pinchgut Development Committee
Tony Gill (chair)
Claire Wivell Plater
Conductor Emeritus Antony Walker
Antony Walker is currently Music Director of Pittsburgh Opera, Artistic Director of Washington Concert Opera and Conductor Emeritus of Pinchgut Opera.
Antony has conducted over 100 operas, as well as many large-scale choral/orchestral, symphonic and chamber works with companies across Europe, the United States and Australia, in addition to performances and recordings of early works with the Orchestra of the Antipodes, the period instrument orchestra he formed in 2001. He has led operatic performances for The Metropolitan Opera, English National Opera, Washington National Opera, Opera Australia, West Australian Opera, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Santa Fe Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Minnesota Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Arizona Opera, New York City Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Vancouver Opera and Cincinnati Opera. He has also appeared with leading orchestras including the Sydney and Melbourne symphony orchestras, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Orchestra Colonne in Paris.
With well over 30 recordings on CD and DVD, his Pinchgut Opera live recordings consistently win praise both in Australia and abroad. His CD collaboration with Teddy Tahu Rhodes (The Voice) garnered the 2004 ARIA Award for Best Classical Music Album of the Year, and his DVD of the ‘Emperor’ Concerto (also on CD as part of a complete set of the Beethoven Piano Concertos) won the international DVD Association Award for Music Excellence.
Antony Walker is the recipient of the distinguished Sir Charles Mackerras Conducting Award, a Churchill Fellowship, the Queen’s Trust Award, and a Green Room Award for his conducting of Alcina for Opera Australia.
Founder and Life Patron Liz Nielsen
Elizabeth Nielsen, along with her husband Ken Nielsen, Erin Helyard, Alison Johnston and Anna Cerneaz, was a founder of Pinchgut Opera. Liz had taught commercial law and established a mediation practice (good training for running an opera company!) before she realised she had retired from the law as Pinchgut Opera was far more fun and was taking all her time. For Pinchgut, Liz has done just about every administrative job from negotiating contracts and grant applications to making lunches and billeting musicians. Liz was Chair of the Board from 2002 until December 2016.
We are so pleased to make our audited reports available for the public to view each year. You can also view this report via the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC) website.
To view Pinchgut Opera's 2019 Financial Audit and Annual Reports, click here.
To view Pinchgut Opera's charity information and financial reports on the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC) website, click here.
Pinchgut Opera acknowledges the Gadigal peoples of the Eora nation, the first story-tellers and singers of songs. We pay our respects to elders past, present, and emerging.