Thomas de Mallet Burgess

Thomas de Mallet Burgess (1983, Philosophy & Modern Languages) has a sustained and distinguished record of creative and organisational achievement in opera. He is currently (from 1 August 2023) Artistic Director at Finnish National Opera in Helsinki.

From 2018 to 2023, he was General Director at New Zealand Opera and during his tenure there he introduced major strategic and artistic reforms that transformed New Zealand’s national opera company as he effectively engaged diverse and broader audiences. In addition to its regular audience, his immersive production of Handel’s Semele attracted a record number of under-twenty-fives, while 47% of the audience for the New Zealand-Tahitian commissioned work Ihitai ‘Avei’a – Star Navigator were first-timers.

“De Mallet Burgess went into his first full year in charge at NZ Opera having to reimagine what it means to be an opera company in the 21st century. What he came up with is the most exciting – and challenging – programme a national performing arts body is likely to have produced in New Zealand.” New Zealand Herald, November 2019.

Prior to this, in Australia 2012 he founded the innovative site-specific opera company, Lost & Found Opera and worked as its Artistic Director until 2018. This venture was hailed as “the nation’s most innovative opera company” (Opera Magazine, 2017) and “one of the few genuinely disruptive arts organisations in Australia” (The West Australian, 2016).

As a multi award-winning opera director, his credits include productions for Finnish National Opera, New Zealand Opera, Canadian Opera Company, The Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Wexford Festival Opera, Opera Ireland, Malmö Opera, English Touring Opera and two new community operas for Blackheath Concert Halls London. Other credits include theatre productions in the UK, Belgium, Romania and the commissioning and development in Ireland of plays by new Irish writers on contemporary social themes.

He is also internationally renowned for his expertise in performing arts training and education. He is the author of the ground-breaking work The Singing and Acting Handbook (published Routledge). As such, he is a frequent visiting artist at universities and conservatories.

He is passionately interested in the relationship between audience and performer; and committed to finding new audiences through the limitless potential of the arts and creative industries to help forge a community’s identity and give it voice.

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