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Lindy Hume and Mark Taylor

The impact and benefits of Opera Queensland's Project Puccini in Regional Queensland.

Partnering with local councils and venues, OperaQ designed Project Puccini as a means of more meaningfully connecting with regional communities.

Project Puccini inspired state-wide community engagement and more than doubled audience reach on OperaQ’s previous regional tour. Nearly 800 Queenslanders auditioned for 36 adult and 12 children's chorus roles in each local community. Selected chorus members underwent an intensive 10-week rehearsal period designed by OperaQ led by a local Chorus Master and Rehearsal Coordinator, learning complex vocal, dramatic and Italian language skills required in a professional production.

Project Puccini provided Queenslanders with the opportunity to improve their creative skills by working alongside distinguished artists including conductor Guy Noble, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, an internationally recognised creative team, technicians and some of Australia's finest opera artists.

Griffith University used quantitative and qualitative research to collect data from participants, regional stakeholders and OperaQ staff. Participants noted that their involvement in the project has led to a greater self confidence (67.24%), enhanced relationships within the community (66.38%), the ability to meet new people (78.45%), and a greater appreciation of opera (81.03%). When asked if they would like to participate in a future project, the vast majority responded in the affirmative (98.28%).

It was also clear that participants appreciated and valued the formalities of musical and dramatic presentation associated with professional performance, staging and costuming. Feedback from participants affirms the benefit of this access to OperaQ's high standard of professional performance:

"It was wonderful to be able to be part of a fantastic production with such a highly skilled enthusiastic and creative team. The QperaQ principals interacting with us were engaging and supportive."

"It was an excellent, positive experience, I hope to be able to work on further projects like this."

"Brilliant opportunity. Brilliantly conceived by all involved in the 2 years of planning. The touring professionals were wonderful. How amazing to see all the elements come together, the wardrobe team, backstage engineers and Michael the awesome hairstylist, the leading artists were magnificent both artistically and in their interaction with us."

Overall, it is projected that the participants' reported increases in self-confidence and well-being will have flow on effects to their families and the wider community.

Lindy HumeLindy Hume

Lindy Hume, Artistic Director of Opera Queensland, is one of Australia’s leading directors, acknowledged internationally for fresh interpretations of a wide variety of repertoire. She is equally recognised for progressive artistic leadership, most recently as Festival Director for Sydney Festival (2010-2012) and Perth International Arts Festival (2004-2007), and before that as Artistic Director of OzOpera, Victoria State Opera and West Australian Opera.

As a director she has created more than 50 major productions across Australasia and internationally: Opera Australia, New Zealand Opera, Deutsche Staatsoper (Berlin), Opera Theatre St Gallen (Switzerland), Händel Festspiele Halle, Aldeburgh Festival (UK), Houston Grand Opera and Leipzig Opera; and has won several prestigious awards, including Helpmann and Green Room Awards for Best Director for the world premiere of Richard Mills' Batavia.

A passionate advocate for regional arts, Lindy currently sits on the Boards of South East Arts (Chair) and Regional Arts NSW. The University of Western Australia awarded Lindy Hume the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters in 2007.

Mark TaylorMark Taylor

Mark has been Manager- Open Stage for Opera Queensland since January 2013. The Open Stage department is crucial in ensuring OperaQ fulfils its mission, to reflect, celebrate and enrich life in our communities. In this position he oversees the companies well established education offerings working with in excess of 15,000 students per year and also oversees and promotes the company’s growing number of community engagement programs and works with sponsors and funders to make these initiatives possible. Mark managed Project Puccini, a world-first initiative by OperaQ, in collaboration with eight regional Queensland cities, which gave hundreds of everyday people the opportunity to perform in the chorus of a new, professional staged production of La bohème. Nothing to this scale had ever been attempted before.

Mark also manages High Notes, a corporate venture designed to allow companies in Brisbane and throughout Queensland to hire professional singers and musicians for corporate and private events and festivals.

Mark joined Opera Queensland in 2010 as the Education Liaison Officer, on a three-year secondment from Education Queensland. In this role, he developed and managed the education programs, liaising with schools and fellow educators to increase opportunities for participation of young people in music theatre, opera and performances and was Chair of the Australia Council’s Major Performing Arts Education group (2012).

Prior to his time at OperaQ, he was Principal at a number of regional and remote primary schools throughout Queensland and has also held multiple elected positions within QASSP (Queensland Association of State School Principals). In 2009, Mark was a finalist in the QUT Outstanding Young Alumni awards and holds a Bachelor of Education degree (majoring in music) and a Master of Education (leadership and management).