Leading independent opera company appoints new Artistic Director

Following an extensive search, the Lyric Opera of Melbourne (Lyric) has appointed Melbourne-based conductor Patrick Burns as its new Artistic Director.

In 2022, he will oversee a program committed to exploring the works of female Australian composers.

The appointment follows over a decade of work by outgoing Artistic Director Patrick Miller. During this time, the company grew from strength to strength, including seeing its productions consistently receiving nominations for Green Room Awards.

Lyric Chair Matt Thomas welcomed the new appointment and thanked the outgoing Artistic Director for his outstanding contribution.

“2020 has proven a significant and pivotal year for all of the world’s opera companies and Lyric is no exception,” Mr Thomas said.

“Not only did it see Lyric undertake its first fully zoom-based workshop of a baroque pastiche, it also heralded the departure of our outgoing artistic director Patrick Miller as he moves on to pursue other interests.

“This time has offered the company a period of reflection and an opportunity to renew our focus and commitment to bringing the best of independent and Australian-repertoire opera to the Melbourne stage.

“We are delighted to be welcoming well-respected conductor Patrick Burns to help shepherd Lyric as it comes of age and we move towards celebrating our 20th birthday in 2023.

“We are confident that under his leadership, Lyric will continue to confirm its position as not only one of Australia’s most exciting independent opera companies but also one of its oldest.”

The appointment represents Patrick Burns’s first time as Artistic Director of an Opera Company, having gained experience as a conductor and assistant conductor for

organisations including The Australian Ballet, Opera Australia, Sydney and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras, Orchestra Victoria, Melbourne Opera and internationally with the

In accepting his appointment, Artistic Director Patrick Burns acknowledged his predecessor and expressed his excitement at the opportunity to step into this leadership role.

“Over the past ten years I have watched with interest as Lyric carved a place in the Melbourne landscape, launched careers and showed a proud commitment to producing lesser-known and Australian works,” Mr Burns said.

“I am delighted to be able to take the helm and lead the company into the future.” Lyric’s Artistic Director role is supported by Caine Real Estate.

Patrick Burns was born in Sydney, Australia and studied French Horn and Conducting at the Melbourne and Queensland Conservatorium. In Australia, he is the chief conductor and music director of the Ipswich City Orchestra and XL Arts Inc. He recently completed his time as Hephzibah Tintner Conducting Fellow with the Australian Ballet, Opera Australia, and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and The Robert and Elizabeth Albert Conducting Fellow with The Australia Ballet. In 2018 and 2019, Patrick has conducted performances for the Australian Ballet with Orchestra Victoria, The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, and The Australian Opera Orchestra. He has also conducted Orchestra Victoria in a regional performance and acted as Assistant Conductor to Simone Young with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. In 2019 he served as Assistant Conductor to Andrea Molino in Opera Australia’s production of Wozzeck. Internationally he has made guest appearances with the National Theater of Serbia (Otello), State Opera of Bulgaria Ruse (Rigoletto, Nabucco, Turandot), and the Pazardzhik Symphony Orchestra in Bulgaria. In 2017, he was the assistant conductor with British Youth Opera and conducted the covers performance with the Southbank Sinfonia. He won the Jury’s Prize at the 2015 Blue Danube International Opera Conducting Competition in Bulgaria and the Orchestra’s Prize in 2016 Black Sea Opera Conducting Competition in Romania.

Aside from his professional engagements, Patrick has always had a passion for community music-making. From 2010 to 2014, Patrick was the Music Director for the Monash University Choral Society, and from 2011 to 2014, was also the Music Director for the Victorian Youth Symphony Orchestra. He has twice led the Queensland Wind Orchestra to win first place in the A Grade Australian National Band Championships in 2007 and 2014. He has worked with numerous community groups in Victoria, including the Ballarat Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Citi Opera, Melbourne Opera, Opera Studio Melbourne, Preston Symphony Orchestra, and Stonnington Symphony Orchestra. In 2017 he started working for the inspirational School of Hard Knocks Association, working with several of their choirs across Melbourne. In 2018 he was the music director for the 69th Annual Intervarsity Choral Festival held Melbourne, which saw participants from university choral societies across come together to perform at the Melbourne Town Hall with the Melbourne Opera Orchestra and guest soloists.


Header photo by Kris Washusen

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer and educator. She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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