Richard Hickox 1948 – 2008

Richard Hickox 1948 – 2008


(Photo credit: Greg Barrett)

The devastating news is filtering through tonight that Opera Australia's Music Director, Richard Hickox, has died suddenly in Cardiff of a heart attack. He was sixty years old. 

I'm still struggling to grasp this, and haven't a clue what to say. My thoughts are with his friends, colleagues and especially his family. He will be sorely missed.

See also:

Articles from The AgeThe Australian (I) | The Australian (II) | Sydney Morning HeraldThe Herald | BBC News | Wales Online | Llanelli Star | Mail on Sunday | Musical Criticism | Telegraph | ABC Online | ABC News | Guardian | The Independent | Times Online | Gramophone |

Blog posts from Jessica Duchen | One More Take | Chandos Records | I am a liminal being | Stumbling on melons | Not another music blogger | Mr Norris Changes Trains | The Omniscient Mussel | Strangers & Aliens | Tom Service ( | The Fool and The Opera | Stage Noise | On An Overgrown Path 


21 thoughts on “Richard Hickox 1948 – 2008

  1. This sad news is just filtering in here in Europe. What a tragedy! Thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and children, who are already in the air on their way back to the UK.
    Thoughts also to the entire OA family!
    Sarah, I, like you, am somewhat at a loss for words, so I would like to use someone else’s.
    Aufersteh’n, ja aufersteh’n
    Wirst du, Mein Staub,
    Nach kurzer Ruh’!
    Unsterblich Leben! Unsterblich Leben
    wird der dich rief dir geben!
    Aufersteh’n, ja aufersteh’n
    wirst du, mein Herz, in einem Nu!
    Was du geschlagen
    zu Gott wird es dich tragen!
    G. Mahler (from Kloppstock). Symphony No. 2 – Die Auferstehung (the Ressurection)

  2. I could hardly believe it when I opened the paper this morning – it’s terribly sad. My thoughts are with Pamela and the children.

  3. His presence will be sadly missed in the world of music- a nice man, a good conductor, a true gentleman of the theatre, a great colleague and a Man U fan, who can beat that?! Thoughts and prayers to Pamela and kids.. Hope he’s up there conducting the angels..

  4. I would like to say, although we wanted Richard out of Australia this was not the way we wanted it to be.
    My condolences to his family and may he rest in peace.

  5. Not a supporter – Show some grace please, and let the opera world grieve, without fear of tripping upon such misplaced and unnecessary comments.

  6. What terribly, teribly sad news for the world of classical music.
    I concur completely with Mabel, what an ungracious comment from Not a Supporter!! What an inappropriate comment to make in connection with Richard Hickox’s death. Even if that is what he thought, it is not necessary to say so.
    I was also saddened to read Bruce Martin’s comment that totally qualified and demeaned his condolence with a comment that said this now presented Opera Australia with a chance to move forward and become Australian and escape the European house it had become. It’s pure hypocricy. He is actually qualifying Richard Hickox’s death with a potentially good outcome and thus rendering his condolence as meaningless. It was an awful thing to say and speaks volumes about him. I’m glad he resigned and will no longer grace our stages.

  7. It is indeed sad to hear such tragic and unexpected news. My heart goes out to the family, friends and colleagues. But might I suggest that what the less pro-Hickox people are trying to say is that the debate about favouritism within Opera Australia shouldn’t be silenced by this tragedy – though full respect and consideration must be given to all those dealing with their loss at this time. I believe the debate has got hijacked by both sides according to their own agendas – pro and con – and has wandered away from the, I believe, genuine and demonstrable concerns about casting and programming within OA, the full responsibility for which does not fall on the conductor’s shoulders anyway. Let’s respect the timing but not let OA use this as an excuse to avoid examining and benchmarking their practices against other opera companies which operate more competitively.

  8. Your comments have validity, but surely you cannot condone comments from less pro-Hickox persons such as Bruce Martin which clearly imply that this tragedy has a positive spin, that being, we will get a new music director and one to his liking and therefore by implication a good outcome!!??

  9. The productions I’ve seen since Hickox has directed OA have often moved me. I suppose that is why I feel this much more personally than I would have expected to.
    However for me this is a time to focus on the man rather than his career, and I feel incredible sympathy for his family and friends at such an awful time.

  10. No David – I don’t condone comments which are insensitive when people are newly mourning someone they care about – although again to be devil’s advocate the comments may have been taken out of context. But just because Bruce Martin said something insensitive shouldn’t devalue his contribution to Australian opera – acknowledging that personal tastes reign supreme in opera, Bruce’s contribution is considerable, and I believe he does have the right to speak his views on Australian opera when there are plenty more too frightened to speak.
    Can we agree simply that Richard Hickox is a great loss to the international opera world and to those who cared for and respected him, and then, when the time is appropriate, return to encouraging OA to greater accountability on their employment and programming practices. There’s enough mudslinging going on right now in the Australian arts scene (don’t get me started on parochialism, cronyism and arts funding) without adding to the pile.

  11. Forgive me but I have not read what Bruce Martin said in response to this tragedy. Have I missed an interview, or was it a newspaper article or something? It appears to have slipped my notice.

  12. From The Age, 25/11/08:
    “While Martin extended his sympathy to Hickox’s family yesterday, he said his death might provide an opportunity to “turn the company round”.
    “It is important to think of the Australian Opera as an Australian company,” he said. “But I fear that under Hickox it became just another cog in the international opera scene.””

  13. With all the above comment there are four people to remember here – Pamela, Tom, Adam and Abigail – Richard Hickox – husband and father.

  14. i cannot believe the insensitivity of mr. martin – in spite of his insensitivity, im glad that he wont be performing with OA for quite some time. i was absolutely shocked, like many, when i heard of richard’s death. may everybody who’s richard touched find solace in the fact that his legacy will continue in decades to come within and out of australia. best wishes to all in this sad time

  15. I had the great privilege of working with Richard for the last 4 years and can honestly say I have rarely met a more positive, energetic and generous man. He loved OA passionately and gave his all to an incredibly difficult job and in the process gave us all so much joy.

  16. i feel so encouraged to read in the media and in blogs that there was such appreciation for richard’s work and life. i feel such frustration and anger to read comments from those who, because they were not being used, couldn’t make their mark in the company, for whatever reason…As many have said, now is not the time for these things = and they are right. he did make a real difference. he made us feel differently about our work and our music making and did indeed call us to heights. sure, it was different to what went before..but it was good. it was artistic and it was heartfelt.
    there were nights, many times that simone young’s input gave us great pause…but there were just as many nights under richard’s baton.
    the great strength that richard instilled and fostered was a sense of ensemble. we performed ensemble theatre. he took us where we should have gone in light of where we have been as a company . it was just right. i know there are detractors. but i saw a detractor an evening ago who reeked of malice and self interest, even in the face of this moment of tragedy. that only reminded me of what we have lost.

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