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About us

Lost & Found was launched in 2012 by the Minister for Culture and the Arts WA, with a mission to present unusual operas in found spaces that speak to the resonance of the work. The Company produces and tours work on a scale that integrates the audience, performance and environment.

In a short period, Lost & Found has produced bold and imaginative work to find its audience and help energise the creative sector in Perth with an array of successful sold out seasons garnering critical acclaim from local, state and national press.

It has been hailed as “the nation’s most innovative opera company” (Opera Magazine) and “one of the few genuinely disruptive arts organisations in Australia” (The West Australian).  The Department of Culture and the Arts in Western Australia (DCA) acknowledged Lost & Found as one of the most exciting companies to have emerged in recent years and praised its work in “reinvigorating opera by presenting an exciting program of high artistic merit to new audiences”. In a recent benchmarking for its production of Bizet’s opera ‘Don Procopio’, the Company scored more highly for Captivation, Presentation, Distinctiveness and Audience Enthusiasm against an average of other Australian and UK companies (Source "Culture Counts Survey" - Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries WA Government).

Our Mission

Lost and Found Opera produces and tours work on a scale that integrates the audience, performance and environment collaborating with artists from a range of disciplines to produce work that extends the boundaries of operatic form and language and speaks to our human condition.

Our Mission

- To engage with new and established audiences for opera by exploring and pushing the boundaries
   of the art form

- To emphasise the link between human experience and opera, uncovering the theatrical moment that
   speaks to the human condition.

- To transform the world of the audience by examining the relationship between the architecture of space
   and the architecture of opera.

- To showcase infrequently heard works from the operatic repertoire.

- To celebrate the relationship between different art forms and the language and the techniques used
   to express them.

- To explore the processes that lead to the commissioning, development and performance of new work.

- To enhance and diversify the skills of artists in a collaborative laboratory that draws upon diverse
   cultural practice.

- To explore the opportunities presented by new technology.

Co-Artistic Directors

Mel Cantwell

Lost and Found Co-Artistic Director

A director, writer and programmer with over 20 years’ diverse experience in the performing arts, Melissa takes a holistic and inclusive approach to her practice and is committed to developing and showcasing innovative performance works for adventurous audiences. 


Mel’s previous roles in the sector include Artistic Director of Perth Theatre Company, Associate Director (PTC) and Program Manager of The Blue Room Theatre. She received an Emerging Leader’s fellowship from the International Society for Performing Arts and has been a guest artist and speaker for numerous national festivals and institutions. She has a BA (Film, ECU) and post-graduate Bachelor of Performing Arts (Directing, WAAPA). Melissa has been a guest lecturer and director for Notre Dame University; Edith Cowan University and WAAPA.

Recent directorial works include Mary Stuart for Perth Festival and Performing Lines WA; The Arsonists (WAAPA); and as Creative Director of independent company The Kabuki Drop: Whale Fall (Perth Festival and PICA); Nocturna; Slap and Tickle (Adelaide Cabaret Festival); The Average Joe (Fringeworld); Blink (Winter Arts Festival) and The Elders Project (Fremantle Festival / Art on the Move).  Mel has been commissioned by PICA; Playlab; Black Swan State Theatre Company; City of Perth; Lotterywest; Barking Gecko and Perth Festival.

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Mark Coughlan

Lost and Found Co-Artistic Director

Mark is a major figure in the cultural life of Western Australia. He is a pianist, conductor, artistic director and gallery owner. Mark is the founder and artistic director of the Government House concert series, Music on the Terrace and directs the annual New Year's Eve concerts in the Perth Concert Hall. He is a former Head of Music at UWA and is an Advisory Board Member at WAAPA. 


Mark has worked extensively with singers as both pianist and conductor. He is dedicated to supporting young people in the arts and has developed a number of programs offering opportunities to emerging artists. Mark is Chairman of OpusWA Arts Orchestra and Chorale, an orchestral organisation dedicated to supporting the development of young singers, and recently conducted their production of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. 


Mark is a former board member and CEO of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, and for many years was a music writer for The Australian newspaper and a judge for The Helpmann Awards. Mark is the founder and director of The Orangery Gallery, a restored arts space showcasing local artists and musicians. He is a three-times finalist for West Australian of the Year in the Arts and Culture category.

Board Members

Mary-Ellen King  (Chair)

Mark Coughlan (Deputy Chair)

Kate Lewis (Secretary)

Chris van Tuinen (Treasurer)

David Jones

Margaret Seares AO

Tom Stephens

Co-Artistic Directors

Mark Coughlan

Melissa Cantwell

Board Members
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