*Pic: of Leo Schofield.
In so many respects, it was the perfect formula: a week of Baroque music in the colonial splendour of Hobart. For two successive years, thousands flocked to feast on its ambience, cuisine and music.
In March 2014, Hobart Baroque drew an audience of about 9000. Of this, 41 per cent came from interstate, staying an average of three days and spending about $3000 each. They brought about $2.2 million into state coffers, a worthy return on the state’s investment of $400,000.
To put it on a professional footing, festival directors Leo Schofield and Jarrod Carland approached the new Liberal government for $800,000. Premier Will Hodgman would not budge beyond the $300,000 in support the state had given the first festival. (Almost simultaneously, Hodgman announced a five-year deal worth $4.125 million to support the annual V8 Supercars Series at Symmons Plains.)
Clearly, Hobart Baroque could not stay in Hobart. Late last year, Schofield moved his brainchild. Reborn as Brisbane Baroque, it runs from April 10 to 18.
Schofield is no stranger to Brisbane. He and business partner Ian McRae created the groundbreaking International Series at QPAC. Over five successive years, they engineered Brisbane-only exclusive appearances by the likes of the Bolshoi Ballet, the Paris Opera Ballet and the Hamburg Opera. When it became known that Schofield was having difficulties in eliciting support from a recalcitrant premier, word went round: why not move to Brisbane?
“The outstanding feature of all this,” said an exultant Schofield this week, “is the collegiality and co-operation we found in Brisbane. Everyone is 100 per cent behind the festival and wants to support it.” QPAC, the major co-presenter, houses all the administration, publicity and production, and venues have been provided at virtually no cost.
In most of his festivals, Schofield has indulged his love of Handel’s operas. This time, it’s another rarity,Faramondo,the 39thof Handel’s roster of 49 operas.
For this Australian premiere in the Conservatorium Theatre, Schofield is importing a recent production from Gttingen. The Scottish-born director, Paul Curran, has transplanted the feud between two 16th-century families to a modernMafiosisetting. “Think Scorsese, De Niro and Pacino,” the publicity teases.
This year’s star act will be the Croatian countertenor Max Emanuel Cencic, whose recent Wigmore Hall debut recital had critics reaching for superlatives.
EARLIER on Tasmanian Times …
• John Hawkins, in Comments: Saturday afternoon. I am currently in Hobart with important clients from Singapore staying in two apartments at the Somerset. In a busy schedule we left enough time to visit the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery – arriving at three forty five to be ordered out due to to early closing to save on wages at four o’clock. The Rhapsody of the Seas – a cruise liner nearly a thousand feet long with a crew of seven hundred and fifty, docked earlier in the day and a large number of tourists wanted access all to the museum … all to no avail. They were directed by me to the Mona Boat across the road which duly left at four thirty. I was informed by the museum staff that fifteen casual staff had been sacked and morale was at an all time low. I suggested they applied to be badged under Forestry Tasmania as then the Liberals would throw money at them just for wearing the logo. Who cares about cruse ships and tourists; certainly not the log-it and flog-it brigade at Liberal HQ.
• Jane Rankin-Reid, in Comments: The previous government and the Board of Trustees’ shocking mismanagement of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery merits a public inquiry. The chaos left in the wake of the Giddings government’s deliberate denial of their obligations to support the the integrity and sustainability of this important institution is only now surfacing.