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Ghillian Sullivan

Singing Teacher - Opera Coach - Opera/Stagecraft Workshops


In a Major International Career spanning some 25 years Ghillian Sullivan has sung over 40 leading roles from the lyric coloratura repertoire, and upon her return to Australia, was the leading soprano guest artist with Opera Australia, all regional Opera companies and Australian Orchestras for over 15 years.    

Her roles include Traviata, Gilda, Donna Anna and Donna Elvira, Konstanze, both Susanna and Countess Almaviva, Leila in Pearlfishers, Adina in The Elixir of Love, Rozalinde in Die Fledermaus, Marguerite in Faust, Olive in The Summer of the 17th Doll, The Governess in The Turn of the Screw, Mimi, Lucia di Lammermoor, and many others by Richard Strauss, Wagner, Handel, Kalman and Lehar, Johan Strauss, and all the G&S soprano roles.  

Ghillian has a wide knowledge of Lieder, Chanson and American and English Song, Viennese operetta, Gilbert & Sullivan, American Musicals, and Music Theatre. Ghillian translates and directs productions for her own Company, NEWCASTLE FESTIVAL OPERA, which enables young artists to perform roles with professionals and with orchestra. She has directed for tertiary institutions, eg USQ and Brisbane Conservatorium, and teaches voice production in Brisbane, Sydney, and Newcastle. Ghillian runs an Opera Performance Summer Schools program, which she devises herself, and teaches with other professional colleagues. 

See for details & news of Company productions & auditions.

Conductors she has worked with include:

Richard Bonynge, Gyorgy Fischer, Sir Charles Mackerras, Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Bernard Haitink, Sir Colin Davis and Sir Mark Elder, ( she herself has never received a Peerage!), Edo De Waardt, Stuart Challender, Simone Young.    

The following list of repertoire is not exhaustive and does not include concert

repertoire, operetta or Viennese repertoire:

  • Lucia di Lammermoor – Lucia (Opera Australia - Sydney, Perth Opera)
  • La Traviata – Violetta (Opera Australia - Sydney. South Australia Opera, Ballarat Festival)
  • Rigoletto – Gilda (Opera Australia - Sydney. South Australia Opera, Lyric Opera Belfast)
  • La Boheme – Mimi (English National Opera, Lyric Opera Belfast, Opera Victoria)
  • La Boheme - Musetta (Kőln - Germany, Opera Australia - Sydney)
  • The Pearl Fishers – Leila (Opera Australia - Sydney)
  • The Turn of the Screw – The Governess (English National Opera - London and USSR Tour to Moscow, Leningrad and Kiev for English National Opera)
  • Die Fledermaus – Rosalinde (Opera Australia – Sydney with Anthony Warlow, Scottish Opera)
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Tytania (Glyndebourne - UK, Opera Australia - Sydney)
  • Die Entfűhrung aus Dem Serail – Konstanze (Glyndebourne - UK, Opera Victoria, Wiesbaden Staatsoper, Aachen, Bremen, Heidelberg)
  • Così fan tutte – Fiordiligi (Hong Kong Festival, Lyric Opera Belfast, South Australia Opera, Knapp Opera – UK)
  • Die Zauberflőte – Pamina (Wiesbaden Staatsoper)
  • Don Giovanni – Donna Anna (Opera Australia - Sydney)
  • Don Giovanni - Donna Elvira (OperaVictoria)
  • Der Schauspieldirektor – Madam Herz (Chatelet Theatre - Paris).
  • Le Nozze di Figaro – Countess Almaviva (Opera 80 UK, Opera Australia - Sydney, South Australian State Opera)
  • Le Nozze di Figaro – Susanna (Opera Australia - Sydney)
  • Die Schweigsame Frau – Aminta (Wiesbaden Staatsoper)
  • Gőtterdammerung – Third Norn (Wiesbaden Staatsoper)
  • Carmen – Micaela (Opera Australia – Sydney, Aachen – Germany)
  • Gőtterdammerung – Woglinde (Wiesbaden Staatsoper)
  • Das Rheingold – Woglinde (Sydney Symphony Orchestra - Edo de Waart)
  • Summer of the Seventeenth Doll – Olive (Opera Australia - Sydney, Opera Victoria)
  • Un ballo in Maschera – Oscar (Opera Australia - Sydney)
  • Viennese Operetta - Chanson, Lieder, English and American song - Oratorio and Symphonic Concert Repertoire.
  • Gilbert and Sullivan (many roles in UK and Australia)

Newcastle Festival Opera : Artistic director since 2006.


  • The Marriage of Figaro (in the outback) for Opera Hunter, Newcastle. This production set in the Australian Outback 1917 was designed and costumed by Ghillian Sullivan and was nominated for 5 City of Newcastle Drama Awards including Best Director: 2004.  

  • A revival of The Marriage of Figaro (in the outback) is underway for 2013-14 using Indigenous singers in the relevant roles. I am working with Deborah Cheetham and her Short Black Opera Co in Melbourne, to develop Indigenous singers and make them ready for the production. I hope to see it performed in Major Arts Festivals in Australia and abroad. 

  • The Marriage of Figaro (in the outback) was purchased and toured to the Queensland Music Festival artistic director for the 2005 season.  

  • Don Giovanni - set in present-day Italian high society. It was translated, directed and designed by Ghillian Sullivan, and performed with Opera Hunter: 2005. The cast included several Graduates of Newcastle Conservatorium, and Sydney Conservatorium. 

  • Così fan tutte - Ghillian directed Cosi fan tutte for University of Southern Queensland in 2006. Set in 1930, the charm and light comic touches of this realisation won critical acclaim. Staff and Under-graduates of USQ were included in the cast. 

  • Così fan tutte- In 2007 Ghillian directed Così in her own translation, set during Schoolies’ Week on the Gold Coast, for her own company, Newcastle Festival Opera. Performances were at Laycock St Theatre Gosford, and Newcastle Hunter Theatre. Cast included graduates and undergraduates of Sydney, USQ, and Newcastle Universities.

  • The Machin Opera Scenes at Queensland Conservatorium of Music - fully staged excerpts from Rusalka, La Cenerentola, Hansel and Gretel, Iolanthe and The Fairy Queen: 2009 

  • The Magic Flute – In 2009 Ghillian directed Newcastle Festival Opera’s production of The Magic Flute performed in the Concert Hall of the Newcastle Conservatorium of Music. It was broadcast on ABC FM Sunday Live. Nominated for 5 awards it won Best Professional Production and Best Musical Direction.

  • The Magic Flute – In 2009 Ghillian directed Newcastle Festival Opera’s production of The Magic Flute performed in the Concert Hall of the Newcastle Conservatorium of Music. It was broadcast on ABC FM Sunday Live. Nominated for 5 awards it won Best Professional Production and Best Musical Direction.

  • The Threepenny Opera. NFO. Producer and costume design. Tour to Cessnock Performing Arts Centre. 

  • La Boheme –Ghillian directed & designed the 2010 Newcastle Festival Opera’s production of La Boheme performed in the Civic Theatre, Newcastle and tour to Cessnock Performing Arts Centre.

  • The Gondoliers – Ghillian designed and directed a vivacious, inventive, and entrancingly pretty Gondoliers which was staged in Newcastle in April 2011 and toured to Cessnock in the Hunter valley, featuring several young artists in their first roles alongside mature performers.