Melbourne scrambles to save Orchestra Victoria from the pit of despair with Wagner

Written By The Wagnerian on Friday, 8 March 2013 | 4:26:00 pm

THE deep E-flat that sounds the beginning of Der Ring des Nibelungen will be played in Melbourne in November not by Orchestra Victoria but by a special ensemble called the Melbourne Ring Orchestra.

In all but name, the two orchestras are the same. Orchestra Victoria is Opera Australia's pit orchestra in Melbourne and plays for all its performances there.

For the larger forces required for Wagner's magnum opus, OV will hire extra players from other orchestras as well as freelance musicians. Other small orchestras would have to do the same.

However, for reasons apparently to do with marketing the Ring as a Melbourne event, Orchestra Victoria is to play under another name. The misnomer may be a small matter in the scheme of things but it is emblematic of the larger problems that beset Melbourne's second orchestra.

Orchestra Victoria has had three names in 30 years. Because it plays in the pit and under the marquees of Opera Australia, Victorian Opera and the Australian Ballet, it does most of its performances out of view, although it has worked hard to make a name for itself with concerts, regional tours and education programs.

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