Sydney in Summer has become famous as one of the best places to see opera performed, both at the iconic Sydney Opera House and outdoors, under the stars.
Opera in the Domain is now a Summer tradition after the first opera was presented in 2000. Thousands of opera lovers are attracted to this free event each January, converging on the Sydney Domain, complete with their picnic baskets, rugs and chairs to claim a spot on the grass, with many arriving early morning to claim a prime position close to the stage, to hear the stars of Opera Australia perform with the backing of a full orchestra.
Many popular operas, such as Carmen, Turandot and Madama Butterfly, have been performed over the years.
This year’s event on Saturday, 24 January at 8 p.m. will present a programme of famous opera arias, including Bizet’s Toreador Song from Carmen, Puccini’s Nessun Dorma from Turandot, Verdi’s Sempre Libera from La Traviata and Rossini’s William Tell Overture. The Australian Opera Ballet Orchestra will be conducted by Brian Castles-Onion, with performances by Natalie Aroyan, Diego Torre, Lorina Gore, Anna Dowsley, Shane Lowrencev and Andrew Jones.
Those arriving early can join in the fun of “Opera Dress-Ups”, where they will have the chance to try on costumes from Opera Australia’s vast costume collection and be photographed on the red carpet.
Opera Australia’s Sydney Summer Season at the Sydney Opera House has a programme of favourites, including three of Puccini’s best loved operas, “La Bohème” with its cabaret styled sets, glittering costumes, love and tragedy, “Tosca”, where Director John Bell has transformed the scene to 1943 Rome and the invading German armies and “Madama Butterfly”, one of the world’s great love stories, complete with a stunning set. Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” is wowing audiences with giant puppets and spectacular costumes. Gounod’s “Faust”, features a man desperate for youth and hungry for passion and his deal with the underworld.
Plans are well underway for another great outdoor opera event when Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour presents Verdi’s masterpiece “Aida” from 27 March to 26 April 2015. It’s a monumental undertaking, with a team of more than 700 people involved in the project before a single note is heard over the harbour.
Director Gale Edwards believes the story of “Aida” is a powerful and political one. “At the centre of the piece is a love affair but it is love in a world of war, a world with no place for love.” Edwards has not confined “Aida” to a particular period, wanting Designer Mark Thompson to use imagery from classical Egypt and modern Egypt, explaining “I wanted one person to have a rifle or a machine gun and another to ride a chariot and for those images to sit comfortably together. I’m not doing a museum piece. Nor am I doing a contemporary take on Aida, in miniskirts”.