The report, commissioned by Victoria premier Steve Bracks and carried out late last year by LEK Consulting, looks into the declining number of opera productions staged in Victoria and lack of work opportunities for artists, and lays out five possible courses for the government.
They include, according to Victorian arts minister Mary Delahunty, who presided over the briefing, a new opera company along the lines of the former Victoria State Opera, which would cost between A$5 million and A$7 million per year; or giving the Sydney-based Opera Australia additional funds for its touring company, OzOpera, to perform more frequently in Melbourne.
The other options, as well as the amount of money that will be available for opera funding, were not detailed by Delahunty, but are believed to include funding a smaller, more innovative opera company; setting up an opera fund for performances on a case-by-case basis; or doing nothing at all.
The options will be put before the state cabinet for consideration in the 2005-06 budget, which will be announced in May.
According to the Australian, a statement released at the briefing suggested that funding a smaller company devoted to more innovative productions was the preferred course, and that the government was also likely to want the option of giving the money to a number of groups rather than just one.
Companies interested in being considered for whatever money the government chooses to disburse have been asked to submit applications by February 28. The applications will be considered by a committee made up of composer Jonathan Mills, Australia Council theater board head Ian McRae, singer Merlyn Quaife, Orchestra Victoria artistic advisor Jo Beaumont, and a representative from Bracks' department.
The Victoria State Opera merged in 1996 with the Australian Opera, forming Opera Australia. According to Melbourne Age, LEK's report concluded that Melbourne is not well served by Opera Australia, and that the merger of the two companies is widely perceived to have been badly handled.