The Ring Festival

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at Melbourne Town Hall

Debate: Art and Politics Cannot Be Separated

Wagner was an outspoken anti-Semite whose grandchildren sat on the knee of his most notorious fan: Hitler. There is an effective boycott of The Ring Cycle in Israel. But Wagner is also a celebrated genius who transformed modern music, and The Ring is the hottest operatic ticket in the world.

Can art and politics be separated? Where do we draw the line? How can we be ethical art-lovers – and does it matter?

This debate is sure to inflame passions and spark ideas, as artists and art-lovers across both sides of the divide – including Leah Garrett, Peter Tregear, Leslie Cannold and Stella Young – lock horns.

Hosted by Lyndon Terracini, the artistic director of Opera Australia.

Speaking for the motion

  • Leah Garrett (professor, Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation)
  • Hannie Rayson (playwright and screenwriter) 
  • Christopher Cordner (associate professor of philosophy at the University of Melbourne)

Speaking against the motion

  • Peter Tregear (conductor, singer, academic)
  • Leslie Cannold (author, academic, ethicist)
  • Stella Young (comedian, disability activist)

Tweet at this event using the hashtag #RingFest.


Portrait of Leah Garrett

Leah Garrett

Leah Garrett is the Loti Smorgon Research Professor of Contemporary Jewish Life and Culture at Monash University. She has published numerous books and articles on contemporary Jewish literature and culture and has lectured around the world on modern Jewish life.

Portrait of Peter Tregear

Peter Tregear

Peter Tregear is a musician, author, and academic. Melbourne-born, he completed a doctorate at Cambridge University, and was later appointed a Fellow. He subsequently held teaching posts in the UK and Australia and worked as a singer and conductor. In 2012 he was appointed Head of the ANU School of Music, Canberra.

Portrait of Stella Young

Stella Young

Stella Young is a comedian, disability advocate and editor of ABC’s Ramp Up website, the online space for news, discussion and opinion about disability in Australia.

Portrait of Christopher Cordner

Christopher Cordner

Christopher Cordner is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Melbourne. He has published widely in philosophy, where his main area of interest is ethics, including its classical Greek and Christian tributaries, and its overlap with art and aesthetics.

Portrait of Lyndon Terracini

Lyndon Terracini

Lyndon Terracini is the artistic director of Opera Australia.

Portrait of Leslie Cannold

Leslie Cannold

Dr Leslie Cannold’s expertise is gender and inspirational leadership. Her public contributions in these areas have earned her awards for Australian Humanist of the Year and multiple notices as one of Australia’s most influential public intellectuals and women.

Portrait of Hannie Rayson

Hannie Rayson

Hannie Rayson is a playwright and screenwriter best known for Hotel Sorrento.

The Ring Festival

Wagner’s epic opera The Ring Cycle is coming to Melbourne – in a production with an international cast and an Australian imagination, directed by Neil Armfield. Opera lovers and critics are salivating; tickets booked out 18 months in advance.

A city-wide Wagner festival took over Melbourne for a month – and the Wheeler Centre was at the heart of the action.

Part of the Melbourne Ring Festival presented by Opera Australia and the City of Melbourne.


More about this venue, including large map, parking, public transport and accessibility.

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