Short Black Opera Team

Meet our team
Deborah Cheetham AO
Artistic Director

Deborah Cheetham, Yorta Yorta woman, soprano, composer and educator has been a leader and a pioneer in the Australian arts landscape for more than 25 years.

In the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, Deborah was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), for distinguished service to the performing arts as an opera singer, composer and artistic director, to the development of Indigenous artists, and to innovation in performance.

In 2009, Deborah established Short Black Opera as a national not-for-profit opera company devoted to the development of Indigenous singers. The following year she produced the premier of her first opera Pecan Summer. This landmark work was Australia’s first Indigenous opera and has been a vehilce for the development on a new generation of Indigenous opera singers. In 2016 Pecan Summer will head to the Sydney Opera House for a record breaking 5th season.

In March 2015 Deborah Cheetham AO was inducted onto the Victorian Honour Roll of Women.

Toni Lalich
Company Manager/ Repetiteur

Toni has worked as an accompanist in Melbourne for the past 20 years, performing with professional singers an instrumentalists. After completing her undergraduate studies in Western Australi, Toni studied at the Liszt Academy in Budapest. On her return to Australia she completed her Post Graduate studies at the Victorian College of the Arts.

In 2011 Toni accepted the position of Company Manager for Short Black Opera and continues with her role as company vocal coach.

Jessica Hitchcock
Admin Assistant

Jessica first joined Short Black Opera as a Developing Artist in 2009. After creating the role of Young Alice in Deborah Cheetham’s Pecan Summer Jessica has reprised this role in Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and most recently the Sydney Opera House.

In 2015 Jessica joined the SBO for KIDS Regional Touring Team and has collaborated with Deborah on songs for the Dhungala Choral Connection Song Book.

Since moving to Melbourne in 2016 Jessica has provided valuable admin support to the company.

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