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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.


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. Her most recent book is a study of th... Read more

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 ... Read more

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. Born in Stawell in Western Victoria, Stella cut her activist teeth at the age of 14 by conducting an access audit of shops on the lo... Read more

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.

Lyndon Terracini

Lyndon Terracini is the artistic director of Opera Australia. In July 2000 he was appointed artistic director and CEO of the Queensland Music Festival and directed the 2001, 2003 and 2005 festivals. He was appointed artistic director/CEO of Brisbane Festival in 2005 and artistic director/CEO of Majo... Read more

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. Leslie is a nonfiction and fiction ... Read more

Hannie Rayson

Hannie Rayson is a playwright and screenwriter best known for Hotel Sorrento. Hannie Rayson has established a reputation for topical, complex dramas written with wit and insight. A graduate of Melbourne University and the Victorian College of the Arts, she has an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from L... Read more


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90-120 Swanston Street Melbourne Victoria 3000

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