September 28, 2013

screenshot_166As a lover of a good martini, the title of Australian author Nicole Lenoir-Jourdan’s new novel caught my eye.

“Hardly Branson: Seven Days in Space with a Martini” has been released on Amazon, where it is described as “A hilarious expose of the travel industry. Bridget Jones meets the Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy and organises his book launch. The flaws and foibles of a cast of dubious characters are mercilessly mocked. The perfect book to read on your next inter-galactic space shuttle.”

Nicole’s latest work is a comedic science fiction tale in the genre of Jasper Fforde, Terry Pratchett and her favourite writer, the late Douglas Adams, whom Nicole was privileged to interview. Her most prized possession is her copy of the Douglas Adams’ Ultimate Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy which bear the words: “To Nicole, Whose questions were much more clever than my answers! With best wishes, Douglas Adams”, after she interviewed him in Sydney for the Peak Magazine (Singapore) and Oyster Magazine.

Nicole’s first published work was a children’s cook book, “The Wonderful Wizard of Borneo’s Magic Recipe Spells” which was utilised by Malaysia Airlines and given away to children who flew on the airline.

The Kindle version of “Hardly Branson: Seven Days in Space with a Martini” can be purchased on Amazon for $0.99.  Sounds like a fun read over the Christmas and New Year holiday break.

Sandra Tiltman 



August 31, 2013

DSC00038Puccini’s ever popular opera, Madama Butterfly, has been selected as the 2014 Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, with Minister for Tourism, Major Events and the Arts, George Souris, making the official announcement at Sydney Opera House recently.

One of the world’s most unique and spectacular outdoor events will return to its previous location in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair.  The stage will be set in the harbour with the Opera House and Harbour Bridge as the backdrop.

Opening on 21 March 2014, this production of Madama Butterfly will be a modern retelling of Puccini’s tale of love and honour. With a dynamic moving set, including an enormous full moon, it will play nightly for an exclusive three week season.

A world class creative team and cast has been assembled for Madama Butterfly, including internationally renowned director Alex Ollé, one of the six artistic directors of La Fura dels Baus, one of the most innovative and prestigious theatre companies in the world.

Japanese soprano Hiromi Omura is cast in the lead role as Cio-Cio-San and returns after great success in the title role at Sydney Opera House in 2012. Alternating in the role will be Korean soprano Hyeseoung Kwon. International tenors Georgy Vasiliev and Andeka Gorrotxategi will make their Australian debuts as they alternate as Pinkerton, the American naval officer who romances Madama Butterfly

DSC00040Opera Australia’s Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini said “La Fura Dels Baus is a creative powerhouse and we are thrilled with the spectacular new production their team is bringing for Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour’s Madama Butterfly.

We have some superb international singers joining us here in Sydney for what has become the cultural event of the year and we are very appreciative of the support of the NSW Government and Destination NSW in helping us deliver this in 2014. We also thank Dr Haruhisa Handa’s organisation, the International Federation for Arts and Culture, for its generous investment in our vision for an opera event like no other.”

After the success of the two previous Handa Operas, La Traviata (2012) and  Carmen (2013), it is exciting to see that the third opera chosen is a crowd favourite. Madama Butterfly on Sydney Harbour will hopefully bring a new audience of first time opera goers to enjoy this spectacle, to be performed in such a unique and beautiful setting.

WORDS & PICTURES:    Sandra Tiltman 


June 11, 2013

1. Bangarra Blak-Kaine Sultan Babij-Photo Greg Barrett

Australia’s premier national Indigenous performing arts company, Bangarra Dance Theatre, brought the audience to a standing ovation at the opening performance of Blak in the Drama Theatre at Sydney Opera House on Friday night.

The Governor of New South Wales, Professor Marie Bashir AC, CVO was in the audience along with Minister for the Arts, George Souris and Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Linda Burney.

Scar -male ensemble. Photographer Greg BarrettStephen Page, Bangarra’s Artistic Director, along with Choreographer/Dancer Daniel Riley McKinley have presented a physically dynamic work with a modern urban perspective that maintains the cultural integrity and spirit of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tradition, giving contemporary expressions to stories, that create a unique theatrical experience.

David Page’s soundscape, with the electronic mixes of Paul Mac, combined with the mood enhancing lighting of Matt Cox gives the performance its edginess.  Luke Ede’s costumes added to the urban feeling.

As this was my first visit to Bangarra Dance Theatre, I did not know what to expect.  The performance, with no interval to disrupt the mood, was exciting and vibrant, I really enjoyed it.  I am now a huge fan.

Blak is playing at the Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House until 22 June 2013.     Sandra Tiltman    PHOTOS:Greg Barrett.



May 20, 2013

BLUE MAN BMG_blankMinister for Tourism, Major Events and the Arts, The Hon. George Souris, recently announced yet another exciting theatrical event for Sydney.  From 10 August 2013, BLUE MAN GROUP, the international entertainment phenomenon, will play an Australian premiere season at the Lyric Theatre.

BLUE MAN GROUP creates experiences that defy categorisation.  Performances feature three bald and blue characters who take the audience on a journey that is funny, intelligent and visually stunning, accompanied by a live band whose tribal rhythms help drive the show to its unforgettable climax.

Best known for their wildly popular theatrical productions and concerts that combine electrifying music, sensational technology, comedy and multimedia theatrics to produce a totally unique form of entertainment, BLUE MAN GROUP continues to reinvent itself

The show combines signature moments with breathtaking new sections that include Blue Men interacting with “GiPads” (think Gigantic iPads), a funny and perceptive look at contemporary modes of communication.  “Over the years, we have grown as artists and the world around us has transformed. These changes are reflected in the new material we’ve generated and implemented into this show,” said Chris Wink, who co-founded BLUE MAN GROUP with Phil Stanton and Matt Goldman.

Producer, Rodney Rigby (Jersey Boys, The Addams Family) said “After years of planning I am thrilled that BLUE MAN GROUP is now coming to Australia. This brilliant show has been entertaining audiences for 25 years and has launched one of the most innovative performance groups ever.  First time audiences leave the theatre astounded by the excitement of a BLUE MAN GROUP show, resulting in one of the highest return businesses of any theatrical event.  People of all ages just love the BLUE MAN GROUP experience, I am sure that same excitement will also be felt by Sydney audiences.”

Sandra Tiltman 


May 7, 2013


Affectionately known as “The Marly”, Newtown’s Hotel Marlborough recently launched their new Garden Bar, bringing a trendy new venue to this iconic inner west pub.  Located on King Street, right in the heart of bustling Newtown, this new bar gives patrons the option of a lush green outdoor setting to enjoy their drinks.

The Garden Bar is an urban garden and outdoor courtyard that has been opened up and transformed, bringing an indoor/outdoor hangout like no other in Newtown.

DSC00038Even when the weather gets a little cooler, the outdoor Garden Bar can still be enjoyed, due to the warmth from the gas heaters, which have been strategically placed around the garden setting.

“Indie and hip hop music, great eats and drinks in a quirky designer setting will see the Garden Bar really hit the spot with the area’s cool young crowd” said Richie Haines, the Hotel Marlborough’s new General Manager.

New Head Chef, Ernie Priestley, has created a menu to fit the Newtown scene with a stack of vegetarian offerings and the reinvention of old Aussie classics.   With six burgers on the menu, he has strong ambitions of being known as the best burger place in Sydney.

The Garden Bar opens from 12 noon to very late seven days.  Sandra Tiltman.    Photos:  John Pond


March 29, 2013

400To celebrate the 60th year of the Sydney Film Festival, Minister for the Arts, George Souris, launched a free online publication.  This digital only publication has thousands of pages of content and images, so large it could never have been printed.

Sydney Film Festival 1954 to Now: A Living Archive, features over 1,000 photos and over 50 archived videos including award-winning short films, news clips and trailers plus a list of all 8,580 films that have screened at the Festival.

Festival Director, Nashen Moodley, commented “This free digital archive provides a thorough historical overview of the festival, which has challenged, delighted and entertained Sydneysiders for six decades.  Within its pages you will find a multi-layered, 444multi-dimensional chronicle of Sydney Film Festival – its past, present and future, seen from many perspectives and told with many voices.  It is an amazing resource full of multimedia, interviews and analysis of the history of the festival, its relationship to the local and international film industries, its position in
cinema history and its role in the development of local art, culture and entertainment.”

The City of Sydney bestowed the Sydney Film Festival with a special history grant through their History Publication Sponsorship Program.  “The City of Sydney is pleased to support this wonderful archive which shows how significant the Festival’s impact has been to the evolution of the city’s cultural life over the past 60 years,” said Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore.

Words & Photos:  Sandra Tiltman.



June 10, 2012

Leo Schofield AM, with Paris Opera Ballet Dancers

Sydney’s Capital Theatre will be the venue for 13 performances of the Paris Opera Ballet production of Giselle. Regarded as one of the greatest, if not the greatest ballet company in the world, The Paris Opera Ballet will return to Sydney in early 2013.

Two of the stars of the Paris Opera Ballet, Mathias Heymann and Eve Grinsztajn, flew to Sydney especially for the announcement, at the Sofitel Hotel, of this exclusive event.  Mathias recently won the 20th Annual Benois de la Danse Award for Best Performance by a Male Dancer, one of the highest awards for dance in the world.  Many of the Paris Opera Ballet’s dancers have come through the company school, commencing their training in the French technique as early as eight years of age.

Giselle, first seen in Paris in 1841, is a romantic ballet which tells the tale of an innocent country girl who, deceived by her noble lover, dies and joins the ranks of other young maidens, similarly betrayed, in a spirit world where she is able to save his life through her manifest love for him.

This exclusive to Sydney tour, is presented by Ian McRae AO and Leo Schofield AM.  The season will run from 29 January 2013 to 9 February 2013 and bookings will open on Monday 2 July.  Sandra T.    

PHOTOS:  John Pond.