Robin Lovejoy OBE 1923-1985

Robin Lovejoy

Robin Lovejoy

Lovejoy turned to freelance directing and designing, and accepted work from interstate companies.

In 1977 Lovejoy was appointed artistic advisor to the Victorian Opera Company’s reincarnation, the Victoria State Opera.

He worked at NIDA until shortly before his death, on 14 December 1985.

 

Lovejoy turned to freelance directing and designing, and accepted work from interstate companies. In 1975 he directed Equus for the Queensland Theatre Company, Blithe Spirit for the South Australian Theatre Company, and Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda for the Victorian Opera Company. The following year he directed a ‘Texas-style’ Much Ado About Nothing at the Dallas Theatre Centre.

In 1977 Lovejoy was appointed artistic advisor to the Victorian Opera Company’s reincarnation, the Victoria State Opera. For the VSO he staged Monteverdi’s Orfeo, and Debussy’s Pélleas and Melisande (1977), the Australian professional premiere of Idomeneo, designed by John Truscott (1978), The Pearl Fishers, again designed by Truscott (1979), Monteverdi’s The Return of Ulysses (1980), and Die Fledermaus, for which he also adapted the dialogue (1981) – all at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre. He also directed an ‘environment theatre’ presentation of Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle in the Great Hall of the National Gallery of Victoria. The Australian Opera recycled his Idomeneo as a vehicle for Joan Sutherland, and engaged Lovejoy to direct The Girl of the Golden West (1979) and Walton’s The Bear (1980).

In 1981 Lovejoy became head of design and direction at NIDA, where his energy and experience inspired a new generation of theatre people. He continued there until shortly before his death, on 14 December 1985. Appropriately, a memorial service was held at the Sydney Opera House.

Robin Lovejoy made his mark on more than 80 plays, 30 operas and five television dramas. He was demanding, fiery, often impatient and tyrannical, but he gave Australian actors and audiences 40 years of sheer theatrical magic. This is encapsulated in his personal archive, which is preserved in the National Library in Canberra. His daughter, Amanda, is a noted stage and film designer.

Frank Van Straten, 2007

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Biographical references

John Clark: ‘Robin Lovejoy’, in Companion to Theatre in Australia, Currency Press, 1995
Ruth Cracknell: A Biased Memoir, Penguin Books, 1997
Frank Van Straten: ‘Robin Lovejoy – master builder’, in Stages, September-October 1993