VALE PETER BINNING
Peter Binning was a familiar face in theatre foyers on opening nights and fundraising events for performing arts organisations. A generous supporter of charities and of theatre artists and causes, he was best known in recent years as a singing teacher training many rising stars in classical singing technique.
Peter was appointed Chief Glug in 2021, a role he was delighted to accept. The Glugs is an organisation of Sydney theatre lovers who gathered together to celebrate the best in theatre over monthly luncheons and the much loved annual Glugs Theatre Awards. Unfortunately in this year of pandemic closures, he was not able to fully leave his mark on the position, but whenever possible, Peter was at performances representing the organisation before illness took over.
Born in Europe he was smuggled out before the war and taken to London where friends of his parents took him to New Zealand at the age of two. Here he was adopted and identified for the rest of his life as a New Zealander. He was never quite sure of his real age or heritage.
Peter had enjoyed an early career as an opera singer, performing with Opera Australia and international companies in the 70’s and 80’s. He had also appeared as an actor on film and stage and in music theatre.
Quite recently he presented his autobiographical cabaret show at Claire’s Kitchen. Beginning in 1943, he told the story of his somewhat turbulent life interspersed with the songs that accompanied his journey. Peter was known as a fine raconteur and story teller and always a great showman.
In the late ‘90s Peter instigated “Opera Afloat” on board Captain Cook Sydney Harbour cruises. The show went through several different guises winding up in 2010 to be hailed as one of the longest running productions on the harbour. Over those years some of his future fellow Glugs members, Marienne Shepherd and Beverley Davis were in the cast including the Celebrant for his memorial service Christian Bischoff. When Beverley was President/Secretary of the Guide Dogs Fundraising Committee Peter gave may trips with “Opera Afloat” to the organisation to raise money.
According to Christian the concept for “Opera Afloat” grew out of a unique tour of inner city pubs where opera was performed in bars. As Christian said “It was really a pub crawl that ended up on the water.”
Peter was also instrumental in forming a company called “Opus Minor” employing opera singers; sopranos, mezzo-sopranos, bass baritones, and tenors. Over the many performances he worked together with them as the MC and as a mentor to the younger artists.
Known and loved for his generosity and enthusiastic support for theatre and aligned charities, and his hardworking commitment to the Glugs, he was a much admired and loved man about town.
His life will be celebrated at a service on the 7th of December at 12 noon at the Marrickville town Hall.