February 22, 2016


Opera Australia’s touring program will launch the opera version of “Hansel and Gretel” in NSW schools this year, after touring Victorian schools last year. It will be performed over 200 times, in more than 150 primary schools, to approximately 45,000 children.

Written by 19th century composer Engelbert Humperdinck, who described it as “a fairytale opera” based on the classic Brothers Grimm fairytale, “Hansel and Gretel” has been a favourite of young audiences for over one hundred years.

The primary school tours, performing to well over one million children, have been run by Opera Australia since 1998. Showing people of all ages, especially children, that operas come in all shapes and sizes is a strong way to develop a foundation of knowledge and interest in opera within the wider community.


Opera Australia’s Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini said, “Taking opera to primary schools across NSW is an important part of Opera Australia’s commitment to new audiences and one that we particularly enjoy, not only for its importance in education, but also for the pure fun of entertaining and engaging with our youngest audiences.”

“Hansel and Gretel” was originally devised and directed by Christine Anketell especially for a younger audience. She worked closely with Tim Sexton and Ian Bone who adapted the music and libretto to under one hour. This 2016 production is directed by Sally Blackwood, in conjunction with Musical Director Michael Curtain and features a highly talented rotational cast of six Opera Australia performers, Emily Barber, Belinda Dalton, Angela Hogan, Jared Lillehagen, Eugene Raggio and Jessica Westcott.

With familiar characters performed by an energetic and talented cast, “Hansel and Gretel” is sure to delight children across the state from February to early September 2016.

Sandra Tiltman



January 13, 2015
Mozart's "The Magic Flute"

Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”

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.

Puccini's "Tosca"

Puccini’s “Tosca”

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.

"Aida" - Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour

“Aida” – Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour

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”.

Sandra Tiltman


September 30, 2014

magic-flute-ss15-brochure-highresOpera Australia is following up on their recent success in building audiences, with a program of popular masterpieces in their 2015 summer season.

Renowned Scottish director, Sir David McVicar, will bring a dramatic intensity from the theatre to his opera work, when directing his celebrated gothic production of Faust, first performed at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

La bohème opens at Sydney Opera House on New Year’s Eve, with additional performances in January. Gale Edwards sets Puccini’s emotional music in the streets of 1930s Berlin, amid the colourful chaos of street fairs and burlesque bars, fairylights and fishnet stockings. Hear Metropolitan Opera star Maija Kovalevska sing the role of Mimì. The production will also feature Mexican tenor Diego Torre, as well as local favourites Lorina Gore and Andrew Jones. Conducted by Andrea Molino.

The Magic Flute opens on 2 January with Emma Matthews making her debut as The Queen of the Night in this version created especially for families. Julie Taymor’s production of Mozart’s famous pantomime is full of colourful, larger than life puppets, enchanting stilt walkers and fantasy characters. It’s a great introduction to opera for people of all ages. Conducted by Anthony Legge and stars Samuel Dundas, Taryn Fiebig and Daniel Sumegi

Tosca, a gripping drama, tells the story of an ordinary woman in extraordinary circumstances who has found true love in a time of war and secrets, but the powerful Scarpia desires her for his own. John Bell’s spectacular and dramatic telling of Tosca returns to Sydney on 13 January and runs until 17 March. Starring international artists Amanda Echalaz, Riccardo Massi and Claudio Sgura, with Italian Conductor Andrea Battistoni.

Madama Butterfly is one of the world’s most famous love stories. A woman capable of great love, a man transfixed by exotic beauty get swept up in Puccini’s rousing music as the opera progresses from love to wonder, to hope and at last despair. Directed by Moffatt Oxenbould and starring international soprano Alexia Voulgaridou and Australian tenor James Egglestone. Conducted by Gianluca Martinenghi, Madama Butterfly opens on 27 January and runs until 18 March.

Faust sees two stars of Australian opera making their role debuts in this timeless opera about temptation and redemption. Teddy Tahu Rhodes plays the alluring yet debauched devil, leading the hero astray, while Nicole Car is the embodiment of beauty as the innocent, desirable Marguerite. Conducted by Guillaume Tourniaire, Faust opens on 17 February and runs until March 13.

The annual Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour will present the grandest of all operas when Verdi’s Aida brings the spectacle of Ancient Egypt to the water-top stage. Directed by Gale Edwards, Set & Costume Designs by Mark Thomson, Conducted by Brian Castles-Onion and features international artists Latonia Moore and Daria Masiero alternating in the title roles opposite Roberto Aronica and Arnold Rawls as Radamès. Aida opens on 27 March and runs until 26 April.   Sandra Tiltman



May 21, 2014

EickhoffOpera superstar and internationally renowned tenor, Jonas Kaufmann, will perform a second concert at the Sydney Opera House on Sunday 17 August. This is in addition to the concert in Sydney on 10 August and Melbourne on 14 August, where he will perform a selection of arias from some of the world’s favourite operas, including Puccini’s Tosca, Verdi’s La Forza del Destino and Massenet’s Werther.

The concerts will be conducted by Jochen Rieder and accompanied by the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra in Sydney and Orchestra Victoria in Melbourne.

Jonas Kaufmann is internationally recognised as one of the most important artists of today and has received the highest acclaim in the world’s greatest opera houses, on the concert platform, and in recital. He has appeared with some of the world’s leading conductors and orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic under both Sir Simon Rattle and Nikolaus Harnoncourt, the Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst and the Vienna Philharmonic under Helmuth Rilling.

Opera Australia Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini said, “Jonas Kaufmann is unrivalled in opera today – he is quite simply, a contemporary opera superstar. His upcoming tour to Australia will be a thrilling opportunity for audiences in Sydney and Melbourne to see him live, performing the world’s most loved tenor arias with full orchestra.” www.opera.org.au

Sandra Tiltman


March 18, 2014


Mrs Macquaries Point on Sydney Harbour has been transformed for this year’s spectacular production of Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour.

Opera Australia’s modern adaption of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly will run for only 20 performances under the stars at 7.30 pm, from 21 March to 12 April 2014. Madama Butterfly will be sung in Italian with English subtitles.

Sandra Tiltman with alternating Butterflys

Sandra Tiltman with alternating Butterflys

With a distinctly modern feel such as American naval officer Pinkerton being represented as a property developer, as well as one of Madama Butterfly’s most striking costumes featuring a full-body tattoo, this production is sure to excite those who have previously seen a more traditional version of the opera performed.

The Madama Butterfly company comes from eleven different countries, with two principal casts alternating performances, led by Hiromi Omura and Hyeseoung Kwon as Cio-Cio-San (Madama Butterfly). It takes 626 cast, crew, musicians and production staff to stage the show.

This year the stage is 12m larger, resulting in a 44m x 29m performance space, undulating to mimic the hills of Japan and features a full bamboo garden. For the first time, the stage is designed to become an extension of the Royal Botanical Gardens itself, utilising 1279sqm of artificial turf. The show will feature two inflatable orbs to represent the sun and the moon. The sun orb will have its own barge to give the impression it is rising from the Harbour.

Madama Butterfly comes to Sydney Harbour 110 years after it was first performed at La Scala in Milan, Italy.   Sandra Tiltman      

Photos: John Pond


March 13, 2014


Opera Australia’s 2014 Sydney Summer Season concludes at the Sydney Opera House on 28 March. Finishing off the season is Tchaikovsky’s romantic tragedy Eugene Onegin, Opera Australia’s first co-production with The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Eugene Onegin is performed in Russian with English surtitles and is based on the Alexander Pushkin novel of the same name. Set in St Petersburg in the early 19th century, the opera tells the tale of a young girl’s first love that goes unrequited, charting a course from hope to regret with tragic consequences along the way. When Onegin thoughtlessly rejects a young admirer, he is unaware the decision will determine his life’s course. The fallout affects those around him, leading to an unnecessary and fateful duel with his closest friend.

In his performance debut with Opera Australia, Slovak baritone Dalibor Jenis plays the dashing Eugene Onegin and Opera Australia’s own Nicole Car plays Tatyana.

Directed by Danish opera director Kasper Holten, Artistic Director of Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Eugene Onegin has one of the most beautiful scores in opera and is regarded as Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece.   Sandra Tiltman 



February 2, 2014


Laughter is not often associated with opera, but laugh the audience did at Opera Australia’s current production of Rossini’s “The Turk in Italy”.  Never before have I laughed virtually from the beginning to the end of an opera performance, I only wish I could have understood Italian so I did not have to keep reading the sur-titles to understand what was being sung.

Gabriela Tylesova’s ultra chic set with pink neon tube lighting, provided the perfect Naples beachside café atmosphere for the evening’s mayhem to occur.

The sight of a stage full of white clad Elvis (complete with slick back hair and sunglasses) and Marilyn Monroes, dressed a la “Seven Year Itch”, was certainly a sight to behold.

Take two long lost lovers (a gypsy and a prince), add a quarrelling couple (a free spirit and a fool) and stir in a secret lover for good measure. Mix them with a masquerade ball, a dash of the seashore (with 1950s bikinis of course), dancing, deceit and delightful confusion, simmer it all and there you have it, a night of pure entertainment, not only for opera buffs but for everyone.

“The Turk in Italy” is playing at the Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House until 12 February as part of Opera Australia’s Sydney Summer Season 2014.

Sandra Tiltman