As a director I re-imagine the relationship between artist and audience exploring unexpected and often intimate encounters with opera, evolving new associations between character, music, text, movement and space where the relationship between singing actors and instrumentalists is central to the presentation of an integrated music drama. I work towards productions that reflect a poetic reality. I facilitate the creation of mentally and emotionally engaged characters in situations from which conflicts arise that in turn engage the audience. I am less concerned with finding contemporary parallels for these situations (though this may be a resonance for the audience) and more concerned in my artistic practice with extensions of dream and myth that engage the audience at another and quite instinctive level of reality.

I am currently particularly interested in the interpretative possibilities that may be offered by staging operas in unconventional spaces (for example, warehouse, asylum, place of worship, train station, port). To this end I founded Lost & Found, an opera company launched in August 2013 by Hon. John Day, Minister for Culture and the Arts WA, with a mission to discover lost works and present them in found spaces that speak to the resonance of the work.

Lost & Found has been hailed as “the nation’s most innovative opera company” (Opera Magazine) and “one of the few genuinely disruptive arts organisations in Australia” (The West Australian).

The company’s critically acclaimed productions have included Poulenc’s ‘The Human Voice’ (hotel room); ‘The Emperor of Atlantis’ (synagogue); ‘In the Shadow of Venus’ (three short contemporary American works at Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts and Winner of The West Australian Arts Editor Award); Milhaud’s ‘Médée’ (former asylum for women); and Bizet’s ‘Don Procopio’ (Italian Club and outer suburban wedding venue).

sustained power, searing interiority and superlative musicianship and stage craft.
The West Australian on La voix Humaine, staged in a hotel room for 15 people at a time.

a terrific production of an underperformed work…Thomas de Mallet Burgess and Chris van Tuinen are doing great things in Perth at the moment, and Lost and Found Opera are truly offering something different for audiences…The Emperor of Atlantis is one of the most inventive productions you are likely to see this year.
Limelight on Emperor of Atlantis, staged in the Perth Hebrew Congregation Synagogue.

Perth’s innovative opera company Lost & Found again breaks new ground with a hilarious triple bill performed in as many sites.
The West Australian on In the Shadow of Venus staged outside and inside the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts and Winner of the West Australian Arts Editor Award.

Darius Milhaud’s 1938 opera Médée was given a gripping Australian premiere by Lost and Found Opera…This production shouldn’t be missed.
The West Australian on Médée staged in a former mental asylum and women’s home in Fremantle.

Innovation, intimacy and insight: this is what opera should be about…The production is a triumph of design and direction.
Limelight on Médée staged in a former mental asylum and women’s home in Fremantle.

Inevitably the question is whether the opera really works, stripped of all the advantages of the opera house itself, its pit and orchestra, the glamour and prestige of its architecture and, not least, its acoustics. The answer in this case is, emphatically, yes…Credit must go to director and translator Thomas de Mallet Burgess, whose script and direction is consistently funny and contemporary…The soloists were each quite remarkable. It was astounding to see them perform with such comic timing, verve and swagger in what, I imagine, must be quite a confronting proximity with the audience, and to hear them sing with such commitment and skill in so bare an acoustic and with such meagre orchestral support…Unknown opera in a bingo hall? Don’t miss it.
The Australian on Don Procopio staged in an Italian club and popular wedding venue in outer suburban Balcatta.

Lost and Found Opera’s wildly imaginative production dissolves the boundaries between performer and audience, reality and make-believe…
In an age when so-called innovative arts programming can be about as disruptive as reruns of The Bill on daytime television, Lost and Found Opera is one of the few genuinely disruptive — dare I say agile — arts organisations in Australia… This opening night performance was an absolute delight, the mix of garish costumes, physical comedy, engaging arias, duets, ensembles and choruses, audience interaction and Burgess’s witty English translation combining to make this Big Fat Italian Wedding a night to remember. In short, Lost and Found Opera have done it again.
The West Australian on Don Procopio staged in an Italian club and popular wedding venue in outer suburban Balcatta.

(image from La Traviata, Malmö Opera)

 

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