West Australian Opera cancels Tim Finn opera Star Navigator after NZ travel bubble closes

David CusworthThe West Australian
Tim Finn’s opera Star Navigator (Ihitai ‘Avei’a) next month has been cancelled due to the suspension of the travel bubble with New Zealand.
Camera IconTim Finn’s opera Star Navigator (Ihitai ‘Avei’a) next month has been cancelled due to the suspension of the travel bubble with New Zealand. Credit: Sean Finney

COVID-19 travel curbs have claimed another high-profile arts project with cancellation of the tour of Tim Finn’s opera Star Navigator (Ihitai ‘Avei’a).

The collaboration between WAO, NZ Opera and Victorian Opera was scheduled for last year, the 250th anniversary of Capt. James Cook’s landfall in Australia.

It tells the story of Tahitian navigator Tupaia who sailed on the Endeavour with Cook, sharing traditional navigation techniques of the Pacific Islands.

Due at the Perth Concert Hall on August 13, the tour has been halted by suspension of the travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia last week due to Delta variant outbreaks in the Eastern States.

Executive director of WAO Carolyn Chard said Star Navigatorhad been commissioned with State Government support some years ago and postponement last year was a “huge disappointment”.

“It is now with a deep sense of sadness that the suspension of the New Zealand travel bubble with Australia has meant that our New Zealand colleagues, including Mr Finn, are unable to be with us in Perth for this concert,” Ms Chard said.

“We do not underestimate the ability to present work on stage in Western Australia knowing that our peers in the arts in other countries are still unable to perform.

“We appreciate that we are able to connect with audiences and we have just closed a full run of the double-bill operas Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci.”

It is understood ticket holders will be offered refunds.

“Cav and Pag” was almost entirely performed by WA-based artists, with some interstate guests quarantining.

Local talent will be to the fore in the next big show at His Majesty’s, the Noongar opera Koolbardi wer Wardong by award-winning songwriters Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse, in October.

Focus on local talent has become the staple for major arts organisations over the past 18 months, with national tours restricted and many cancelled.

Next week, The Maj will showcase WA Opera Young Artists on Tuesday, August 3, from 6.30pm, in the 3rd Floor Rehearsal Studio.

Entry is by donation, with registration required at operaloverswa@outlook.com.

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