Opera & Song

Past Programs

Share this program
The VSO Story delves into the life and times of one of Australia’s great arts organisations. In this six part series, we track the rise and fall of the Victoria State Opera. From humble beginnings, to its heady days and ultimate demise.
Episode 1 – 1pm October 24 – Welcome to the Family Company
Episode 2 – 1pm October 31 – Growth! Growth! Growth!
Episode 3 – 1pm November 7 – Out On The Road
Episode 4 – 1pm November 14 – The Heady Days
Episode 5 – 1pm November 21 – The End is Nigh
Episode 6 – 1pm November 28 – The Merger
The VSO Story is produced with the support of the Community Broadcasting Foundation and is a CBAA Award finalist.

Loretto Perkins was driving to work one morning, listening as usual to 3MBS, when she heard a request for people who would like to train as broadcasters. Such an idea had never occurred to her till then, but she thought she might enjoy it. Only four participants in her course - Susan Porter, Doug Beecroft, John van Bavel and Loretto – remain at the station. The gang of four became good friends. When a vacancy arose for 'Singers and Songs,' Loretto had her arm twisted. No singer herself, but an...learn more

In 1975 the Victorian Opera Company presented a knockout performance of Donizetti’s Mary Stuart, with June Bronhill as Mary Stuart and Nance Grant as Queen Elizabeth I.  Episode 2 of The VSO Story, entitled Growth, Growth, Growth! Includes a recording of the confrontation scene from this opera in which the two Queens come face to face in a meeting that doesn’t go well for either.  This remains one of the great performances in Melbourne’s operatic history.  The Victoria Opera Company was to become the fully-fledged Victoria State Opera the following year.










The new State Theatre had just opened and begged to be used with productions that took advantage of its full stage and technological capabilities.  The VSO’s Don Carlos was the first opera to be designed and make use of the State Theatre – a grand opera with some of Verdi’s greatest music.










When the VSO first performed Lohengrin in 1985, the public was overwhelmed by the power of the singing and the dramatic force of the production.   Lohengrin was brought back to the State theatre in 1992 with a revival of the original production, and German tenor Horst Hoffmann in the title role.










The VSO’s fifth opera for 1996 was Richard Mills’ new opera Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, set in north Queensland, and based on the Ray Lawler’s classic 1955 play.  Ken McKenzie-Forbes had first set his sights on commissioning an opera based on this play seven years earlier and it was a significant artistic achievement for all concerned. It was during rehearsals for this opera that news arrived of the merger of the VSO with The Australian Opera.  The story is told in Episode 6 of The VSO Story, entitled The Merger.