Opera

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Vin­cent Plush

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.

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