Saturday, 06 April 2024

Address the book launch of Thomas Edmonds’ Autobiography

Rod and I as joint patrons of the State Opera of South Australia and the Friends of the State Opera are delighted to join you for the launch of Thomas Edmond’s autobiography, and to celebrate his 90th birthday.

One mark of a high-performing organisation from a patron’s point of view is the acknowledgment of those who contribute and the celebration of excellence. It is good to see you doing both this afternoon.

As many here will know, Thomas’ life has been full, hugely successful, full of music and founded on a love of family. That is clear, too, from every page of Ev’ry Valley, an early copy of which I have had the benefit of reading.

As opera lovers, Rod and I have enjoyed many magical, compelling performances, enchanted by the music and the characters.

Thomas’s book reminds us that the artists who bring these personae to life tread many stages throughout their own lives – and live at many different addresses.

Other speakers will no doubt have more to say about this – including, perhaps, the journey from Peterborough to Covent Garden – but after all this time, we think of Thomas as a much-loved South Australian treasure, a fact attested to by his myriad awards and honours.

There would be many people across our state and nation, and I count myself among them, who feel that they know Tom or Thomas Edmonds and know him well simply because he came into our living rooms on many occasions as a dashingly handsome Showcase talent show winner and later as adjudicator on Showcase Auditions.

Such is the intimacy of television.

In in this way, and through his live performances, he brought the magic and joy of opera to a wider audience, a quest I know is part of the State Opera’s mission.

As Governor, I am also delighted to bring a Vice‑Regal touch to this afternoon’s celebration by noting that Thomas sang in the massed choir at the Adelaide Showgrounds in 1954 on the occasion of the visit of the then new Queen, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and Prince Phillip.

He also met Her Royal Highness Diana Princess of Wales at the Albert Hall in London, after a performance of Handel’s Messiah.

And, of course, my predecessor The Hon Hieu Van Le presented Thomas and his wife Elizabeth with Life Membership of The Friends of the State Opera at a ceremony at Government House in 2016.

In his book, Thomas concisely documents the very beginnings of the State Opera SA. He documents the names, the performances, and, happily, the anecdotes.

I thank the opera community, including those who have captured our operatic history, for your commitment to nurturing perhaps the most emotionally direct of all art forms.

Thomas, I hope your book will inspire other young boys or girls from the country, or indeed those from the suburbs, to know that with encouragement, good teachers, and self-belief, they too can follow their dreams and make a mark on the world stage.

You mention in the book that you used to hold a small quartz crystal in your hand when on stage and it gave you the feeling that your family was there to provide support.

You had collected it from the farm and, as the years went by, and as you gained confidence, you, with what you describe as the folly of youth, dispensed with it; but wish now that you had kept it.

By way of a small birthday gift, I have for you, with the kind assistance of the South Australian Museum, a quartz crystal from the Peterborough region.

I hope the replacement of your lucky quartz will bridge the years.

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