O'Farrell met representatives of Opera Australia and the Opera House in the theatre yesterday to announce the decision, which follows discussions with Dame Joan's husband, the pianist and conductor Richard Bonynge, and the rest of her family.
The Premier noted that construction of the Opera House had ”almost coincided” with the decision of Dame Joan and Mr Bonynge to return to Australia in 1965 at the height of her international fame as a soprano.
I think what's fantastic about this woman, who was just such a magnificent singer, was that it just demonstrates that Australians can do anything on the world stage,'
Support for renaming the opera theatre emerged from the memorial service at the Opera House after her death in October 2010. Bonynge said in a statement,
The family are delighted and feel very honoured at the renaming in honour of Dame Joan. It is a splendid day.”
A naming ceremony for the opera theatre is expected to take place in the second half of this year, subject to the availability of Mr Bonynge and their son, Adam, to attend.
The renaming comes as Opera Australia prepares for the opening next Saturday of its ambitious production of La Traviata on Sydney Harbour, over which will be suspended a 3.5-tonne, nine-metre high chandelier, adorned with 10,000 Swarovski crystals.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.