Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour: The Collection Opera Australia ABC Classics Is there any experience more quintessentially Sydney than a night at Handa Opera on the Harbour? With a backdrop of the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge at sunset, it is hard to imagine a more perfect setting for grand opera al fresco. Each night for a month, about 3000 patrons are perched in rows along Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. For the past five years, Opera Australia has presented a cavalcade of the most popular operas in the repertoire — Carmen (reprised in 2017), La Traviata, Aida, Madama Butterfly and Turandot. Miraculously, on all but one evening the weather gods have smiled and hummed along. From the opening Roll-a-door song from Carmen to that ultimate Kleenex number, Nessun Dorma from Turandot, these are truly splendid performances from wellmatched international casts. All voices soar effortlessly into the night air. Opera Australia’s chorus and orchestra give thrilling performances, conducted with aplomb by Brian Castles-Onion. The true heroes of this enterprise are the teams of sound technicians; led by Tony David Cray and Aidan Corrigan, they have projected and captured sounds more vivid than the muted warbles at Bennelong Point. Indeed, there were moments in Puccini’s orchestration I had not encountered before in Aida and Turandot. Not even intrusions from onstage business, the mandatory nightly fireworks and audience applause at every high C intrude on the fidelity of the musical score. These 13 excerpts, also available on DVD, are not just souvenirs of thrilling spectacles; they could also entice opera buffs the world over who have not yet had the Sydney experience.