Stuart Maunder, an Australian-born international opera director and arts manager, has been appointed General Director of New Zealand Opera.
He is honoured to be appointed General Director of New Zealand Opera, he says, and thrilled to be joining a truly national company. “Opera has been at the core of my entire career, from small scale touring shows to major concerts, fully realised grand opera to the administration of Opera Australia.
“I know my passion, drive and commitment to the operatic art form will allow New Zealand Opera to continue to scale the artistic heights, develop audiences and grow its unique position in both the New Zealand and international arts markets. New Zealand Opera should be firmly at the centre of operatic output in the Pacific region,” he adds.
Stuart was drawn to opera as a university student after a friend had persuaded him to see Ingmar Bergman’s film, The Magic Flute. He was intrigued enough to begin buying five dollar tickets to opera performances while also auditioning for roles in plays. Before long, he landed his first job in the world of opera as a stage manager. And observing the many great people at work on stage and behind the scenes he decided that production and direction were the areas that most appealed.
Thirty five years on, Stuart has accumulated extensive experience as a stage director not
only in Australia but also in the UK (including Staff Director at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden), France and the US. Since the late ’70s he has been involved with Opera
Australia, both as a stage director and in the senior management positions of Artistic Administrator and Executive Producer.
So what attracted him to New Zealand Opera? “The Company is poised to do more extraordinary things. Look what it is doing in Australia with co-productions. It is also a truly national company. I don’t know of any other opera company that services three centres in a country. It’s exciting to be part of the rebuilding of Christchurch. And my hope is to get opera into more parts of the country.”
Sir David Gascoigne, New Zealand Opera’s Chairman, says Stuart Maunder is a highly skilled and widely respected opera professional. “With a deep knowledge of the classical and more modern and popular repertoire, Stuart is an enthusiastic and charismatic communicator of all facets of operatic life and production,” he says. “The depth of experience that he brings to the company from his time in high level management roles at Opera Australia means New Zealand Opera is in very good hands. This augurs well for our loyal supporters and maudiences, and for the art form in this country.”
Stuart succeeds Aidan Lang, who was recently appointed General Director of Seattle Opera. And he will be at the helm when La traviata opens in Auckland on 19 June.
”And there is nothing quite like being there when the curtain rises after the prelude to La traviata,” he promises.
By Susan Buckland, Publications Editor, NZ Opera.