Founded in 2002 by ongoing artistic directors Antony Walker and Erin Helyard, Pinchgut is somewhat true to its name: it stages smaller productions where the music and musicians are first, and the production values (sets, costumes, audio-visual whizbangery) are second.
Given this mission, the baroque and renaissance repertoire is a good fit for size – but just as importantly, it was also an untapped niche in opera when they started the company.
As they point out: "More operas were composed before 1750 than after. Except perhaps for a few by Handel, very few are performed these days. We think there is a huge treasure trove of marvellous works that Australian audiences have not seen. Cavalli, Vivaldi, Monteverdi, Rameau, Grétry, Salieri and Charpentier are almost unheard of, as opera composers, in this country. Other companies do the more familiar operas excellently; we want to help audiences discover something new."
Time Out Sydney classical music editor Jason Catlett wrote in his review of their 2016 production of Vivaldi's Bajazet: "Pinchgut aren't just a world-beating opera company, they are musical archeologists with a track record of unearthing amazing treasures from the Baroque period and displaying them with great thought and care. Their fully staged productions often astonish, never because of any grandiose directorial whim, but often due to faithfully reproduced period attributes that have become unfamiliar."
Pinchgut perform with the period instrument ensemble Orchestra of the Antipodes.