Well, I was pleasantly surprised. It was a wonderful night of entertainment listening to and seeing this very creative Australian opera production. It is actually the third time it has been presented at the Opera House. This time around it is performed to help celebrate the 60th anniversary of Opera Australia, which was formed in 1956.
This production is ground breaking due to its outside location. It is not performed in one of the theatres under the shells of the Opera House, nor on a floating stage like the other outdoor Handa Operas on Sydney Harbour. It is performed on the 100 meter wide steps of the Opera House with the audience seated in the partitioned off forecourt. Sometimes the singers perform on the granite steps, and at other times they perform on platform stage segments that glide across the steps in various formations. (These were shaped in the design of the ceramic tiles on the shells of the Opera House.)
Other prominent parts of the spectacular staging were a large inflated white screen that was used for video projections, large white unevenly shaped balls that were lit up from the inside with various colours. I wasn't sure what these rock-like creations were, but later found out they represented crumpled up balls of paper. Of course, the sails of the Opera House featured strongly in the background.
The story of course featured the genius architect of the Opera house, Jorn Utzon, the various politicians and public servants; Alexander Mason, an opera singer and her family; and Stephen Goldring, her boyfriend opera musician.
There was little spoken dialogue in the opera, with most of the storyline sung by featured soloists backed by members of the Opera Australia Chorus. Unlike most other operas, this one was sung in English. It was still good to have english subtitles on screen, as some of the singing, even though in English, was a bit hard to understand without reading.
The key male singers are tenor Adan Frandson, playing Jorn Utzon, Martin Buckingham playing the Premier, and Michael Petruccelli playing Stephen Goldring, the opera musician. The key female singer is Stacey Alleaume, playing Alexandra Mason, the opera singer. She has the desire to sing in the new Opera House, which she ends up doing. These singers all do an admirable job of singing and acting in this unusual opera setting. They are backed up by a talented team of other singers, actors and dancers, many who take on multiple roles throughout opera. The actors on stage in the beach scene must have been rather cool in their swimming costumes.
It was unusual not hearing the loud clapping of the audience throughout the performance, as it was drowned out by the singing and music coming through the headphones.
What I have noted about other operas, is that several key players die on stage. True to form, this opera has the Premier dying, and the Architect symbolically dying on the Opera House's gala opening night.
I know a few things about the history of the Opera House, but my knowledge expanded as a result of seeing this opera. For example, I thought the many steps leading up to the Opera House were just a bad design concept. I had not realised their connections to the architects interest in Mexico and the Aztecs warriors.
Everyone should make the effort to go along and see "Sydney Opera House – The Opera (The Eighth Wonder)". The opera is about the construction of a building, but it is much more than that. People will resonate with the dreams, visions, romance, struggles, passion, courage, love, drama, and triumph that are the themes aptly exhibited in this opera production and are a part of our daily lives.
When you go, remember it is an outdoor opera. The seating area and stage are completely uncovered. Dress appropriately with warm clothes, and remember to take a plastic poncho with you just in case it rains. The opera will be still staged even if it rains.
The singers and orchestra certainly deserved the applause at their bows at the end of the show. It was unfortunate that no acknowledgment was given to the people behind the scenes on the night who make the opera possible. Here I am thinking of the hard working sound and light crews and those stage hands in overalls who slid the stage platforms across the steps. They certainly need to be thanked by the audience for all they do.
There are only 3 performances remaining of "Sydney Opera House – The Opera (The Eighth Wonder"). Don't miss this once in a life time opportunity to see this incredible outdoor performance. Even if you have never been to an opera before, you will enjoy and understand this uniquely Australian opera about the The Eighth Wonder of the world - the Sydney Opera House.
Sydney Opera House – The Opera (The Eighth Wonder)A city's icon.
An architect's dream.
A political battleground.
When: Thursday 3, Friday 4, Saturday 5 November 7.30pm
Adults]: Premium $185.00
A Res $145.00
B Res $109.00
C Res $ 69.00
Pensioners/Students $62.00 – $167.00
Child $35.00 – 93.00