Down And Dirty Opera

There’s always been a rivalry between Australia’s East and West Coast. But nowhere has this feud been more apparent than in the cut-throat world of opera. 

Female opera singer
Dame Liz Masters - the "Mad Momma" of Aussie opera
One of the worst rivalries has been between two opera singers, Dame Liz Masters of Sydney, NSW and Helen Yu of Fremantle, West Australia. It’s a feud that’s crossed both sides of the continent. It started with some nasty disses on albums then led to violent deaths in the orchestra pit and finally culminated in some vicious drive by cantatas. 


Both Masters and Yu are mezzo sopranos, the gangstas of the opera world.

 Opera had traditionally been at its peak on the East Coast, with Sydney and Melbourne the opera capitals. But then in the 1990s, Cutthroat Arias set up in Perth. This record label brought in a number of hard hitting, opera stars such as Helen Yu and Greg Forsythe who sang about gritty topics like the Valkyries;  the myth of Orpheus and 17th century fiancee swapping.

Their sound would boom out from the speakers of angry, wealthy suburban garden parties everywhere.  It all set the scene for a rollercoaster ride of violence and very long solos, with Liz Masters and Helen Yu the two ringleaders.