Elijah Moshinsky

  • CHS 1958 – 1963
  • Co-editor of Prospice 1963
  • Year 12 results: First Class Honours in English Literature; Modern History and Art
  • Year 12: Awarded General Exhibition; Senior Scholarship; Ormond College Scholarship; Commonwealth Scholarship
  • Directed performances in the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Metropolitan Opera House, La Scala and the Royal National Theatre for over 30 years
  • Directed opera, theatre and television throughout the world
  • Won Laurence Olivier Award three times
  • Received Australia’s highest award: The Opera Australia Award in 2019

 Elijah’s family fled Russia and sought refuge in Shanghai where he was born in 1946, before emigrating to Australia in 1951 and settling down in Melbourne. Elijah’s Year 12 results were outstanding, and he took up a scholarship at Ormond College, University of Melbourne, where he soon became involved in theatrical productions at the university. In 1973 he earned a scholarship to study at Oxford University where his involvement in a production of As You Like It caught the eye of the Director at Covent Garden and he was offered the role of Producer for the Royal Opera.

As a director of opera and theatre, Elijah was famed wherever his productions were staged throughout the world. His television work included the filming of operas, plays and works of literature. He was involved in either the direction or production of works as diverse as Lohengrin, Samson et Dalila, The Bartered Bride, Much Ado About Nothing, Becket, Richard III and The Green Man. For more than thirty years he entertained and enthralled audiences with performances in such venues as the Royal Opera House, Metropolitan Opera House, La Scala, and the Royal National Theatre. Three times he received the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Opera for his productions for the Royal Opera. In 2019 he was honoured with The Opera Australia Award.

In 2019 Elijah wrote: I owe all my interest and development to the wonderful teachers at Camberwell High. In those days, 1958 to 1963, it felt like an English Grammar School. l had wonderful teachers who opened up the world of culture and history to me. Bob Ewins was a wonderful educator. Not only did he make me love poetry, but Mozart. Miss Pettit, who taught French, opened up Europe. And a string of History teachers, I think Mr. Hobbs was one, made me want to learn about the past.  I was a refugee child from a Jewish background and the school embraced many post-war refugees. I used to wag school to go and see the films of Ingmar Bergman and also Billy Wilder. Uniform was important. Caps had to be worn and I remember spending a lot of time swimming. There was discipline and order. Sporty, but cultured. They were happy days for me, and I am a lucky person to have had this great experience.

 When I left Australia to continue my studies at Oxford, I was already theatre and opera mad. I had always wanted to return and perform in Australia. My artistic aim was to keep loyal to Australia and my devotion and commitment to that aim has lasted from 1976 until today.  I am deeply touched and honoured by the Opera Australia Award, more than I can express. I live in England, where my children are, but my heart is in Australia. I still import Cherry Ripe’s!            

The Opera Australia Award is its highest honour and acknowledged Elijah’s long service to the company and his pre-eminent contribution to the country’s operatic landscape. In 2019 Lyndon Terracini, Director of Opera Australia wrote: “Elijah has a rare talent for creating timeless productions that resonate with audiences and it is a joy to be witness to his work.” 

In 2021 the world of opera was profoundly sad to hear of Elijah’s untimely death due to Covid-19. On behalf of the alumni community we extend our sympathy to his family. We will continue to honour his legacy on our Hall of Fame. Further information can be found in the Limelight Magazine.  Updated 2021


Elijah Moshinsky at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden 2019