The Sydney Opera House has provided a glimpse of the changes that audiences will see when the world-famous Joan Sutherland Theatre (JST) re-opens on New Year’s Eve, after seven months of renewal works. Continue reading HISTORIC NYE OPENING: RENEWED JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE AT SOH
The Sydney Opera House today announced the line-up for its sixth All About Women festival on Sunday 4 March 2018. For next year’s ALL ABOUT WOMEN a stellar cast of international and local storytellers, thinkers and game-changers will explore the issues and ideas important to women in 2017, including: Continue reading IT’S ALL ABOUT WOMEN FESTIVAL: TIX ON SALE FRIDAY
THE YOUNG KING – a tremendous production by Slingsby at the Sydney Opera House
This is a magical, inspired production that had the young children enthralled (and adults too) . It is an interactive immersive production devised by the wonderful Slingsby company based in Adelaide.
Sensitively adapted by playwright Nicki Bloom (Tender, The Sun and Other Stars, Little Bird), the production is based on Oscar Wilde’s classic story , first published in 1891 , and retains some of Wilde’s magnetic, hypnotic, lush language. Memorable , tantalizing ,lyrical descriptions of snaking perfumes of jasmine, and of pearls shaped like the full moon and brighter than the morning star are provided .
As we enter there are harassed but welcoming busy courtiers , mysterious chambers , curious installations to examine and secret compartments , the only sound the relentless ticking of a clock , on the journey to the Young King’s coronation. There’s instructions involving a secret, directions as to how to greet the king, your card checked, a slight interlude while waiting in ‘the first chamber’ to enter and then we get to make a cardboard crown and take our seat .
Are you an Industrious Denizen of the South ? A Rough Fisher folk of the North? Come from the gruff Forest Folk of the East ? Or a Gritty Prospector of the West ? We are welcomed and the various gifts from the people arriving from the four directions presented and displayed before being carefully taken for safekeeping, (much fun with the last one where ‘pass the parcel ‘ and messages are included in the many layers of wrapping) .
It is the story of an art-loving princess who rebels against her traditionalist father the Old King; and of her son, raised in the forest by goatherds who is revealed to be the heir to the kingdom. Unaware of his birthright, fate eventually catches up with the young man , removing him from his idyllic forest to the palace to assume his royal duties.
As a quest ensues for treasures to create his robes, crown and sceptre, the boy faces a series of meditations and internal struggles as revealed by three dreams . Privilege and treasures are laid at his feet – but at what cost to others ? The three dreams – of the looms, of the diving for pearls , of the battle between Death and Avarice – are vividly brought to life. The Young King’s eventual rejection of the oppressive structures of feudalism rocks the Kingdom to its core.
Wendy Todd’s wonderfully seemingly simple but fabulously intricate set — a wooden fireplace of panelled walls — has various incredibly detailed secret compartments that slide in/out or open , containing fascinating objects, and an element of surprise.
The specially commissioned, wonderfully atmospheric score, at times rollicking , at times piercing beautiful and lyrical , is by Quincy Grant who accompanies the action live on several instruments, including piano and clarinet . The delicate ,extremely effective , atmospheric lighting by Geoff Cobham (fashioning everything from gleam of gold to the soft glow of jewels ) is beautifully incorporated.
Tim Overton and Jacqy Phillips narrate the story and act the cast of thousands and are also splendid at shadow play, torches , and puppetry .( think sort of a blend of Theatre of Image and 1927 perhaps ) .
They’re terrific together — Overton as the young fresh faced king with boyish charm : he is wide eyed with wonder and curiosity , awed by the beautiful objects and his robe for the coronation , but saddened to discover the hardships suffered to obtain them . As Death he is far more sinister with thrilling use of torches and shadows . Phillips in theatrical black is grumpy , cantankerous and scary as the Old King and as Avarice in the battle between Avarice and Death.
The transformation scene at the end is poignant and lyrical , Wilde’s moral tale still extremely relevant today.
THE YOUNG KING runs at the Sydney Opera House 11-12 November 2017. For more information visit:
The ever amazing Bernadette Robinson (Songs For Nobodies, Pennsylvania Avenue) dazzles and delights in this sensational new show the world premiere season of THE SHOW GOES ON
We are left gasping at Robinson’s incredible range and talent as directed with great polish by Richard Carroll. The show is a tribute to several divas of roughly the last 75 years – including Barbra Streisand, Judy Garland, Maria Callas, Shirley Bassey, Patsy Cline, Julie Andrews and Edith Piaf.
Under Carroll’s direction the show is terrifically devised and structured as a showcase for Robinson’s phenomenal talent and voice and her uncanny ability to mimic some of the greatest voices of our era. Her seamless, smooth technique is incredible.
Robinson is on stage the entire time, supported by a splendid band led by Martine Wengrow. Continue reading BERNADETTE ROBINSON IN ‘THE SHOW GOES ON’ @ THE PLAYHOUSE
This is the first time the Hong Kong Philharmonic has visited Australia in its 43-year history. Its 2017 Tour was led by internationally-renowned conductor maestro Jaap van Zweden, Music Director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic since the 2012/13 season, who conducted with elegance, aplomb and a terrific sense of timing and phrasing
The ambitious programme included the Australian premiere of Quintessence, a new work by Hong Kong composer Dr Fung Lam as well as Mozart’s Violin Concerto no. 4 and Mahler’s Symphony no. 1.
The opening work Dr Fung Lam’s Quintessence which tries to define and express the Buddhist ideas of striving towards one’s highest goals and attainment. Fung Lam is the orchestra’s Director of Orchestral Planning and the first Hong Kong composer ever to be commissioned by the BBC.
Continue reading HONG KONG PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA @ THE CONCERT HALL
This joyous, frothy operetta is a sheer delight. Robert Andrew Greene’s TWO WEDDINGS ONE BRIDE is adapted from Charles Lecocq’s 1874 classic operetta Girofle-Girofla. Musically it blends some of the most famous and beautiful songs of the operetta repertoire (Strauss, Offenbach, Lehar, Kalman, Lecocq, Stolz ) yet at times it sounds like Mozart, Verdi or even Gilbert and Sullivan.
There is a lush Oriental minimal set design by Owen Phillips – looking as if it could be for The Abduction From The Seraglio or some such – and stunning costumes by Tim Chappel. Andrew Hallsworth’s choreography is inventive and the small cast of five perform with great comic timing.
Polished musical accompaniment was provided by pianist Robert Andrew Green and violinist Yuhki Mayne. Continue reading OPERA AUSTRALIA : TWO WEDDINGS ONE BRIDE @ THE PLAYHOUSE
The Omega Ensemble’s upcoming concert features this tantalising program : –
Debussy – String Quartet in G minor, Op. 10
Ben Hoadley – Clarinet Quintet World Premiere
Haydn – String Quartet Op. 64, No. 5 ‘The Lark’
Mozart – Clarinet Quintet in A major, K. 581
Of Haydn’s eighty-three string quartets The Lark is a perfect representative of the entire genre. Like the majority of string quartets throughout the history of the form, its four movements provide a superior entertainment in four acts, aptly described as ‘a story, a song, a dance and a party.’ Continue reading THE OMEGA ENSEMBLE PRESENTS ‘HAYDN AND MOZART’ @ THE UTZON ROOM
A very exciting and vibrant discussion chaired by Fenella Kernebone who led the panel of Rachel Healy (Adelaide Festival) and Wesley Enoch (Sydney Festival) and Fergus Linehan (Edinburgh International Festival) and asks why we put on festivals, what they offer artists and communities, and dives into future festival trends both locally and internationally.
To begin with, a bit of background in regards to each of the panellists.
Wesley Enoch has been a theatre director and writer for over 25 years specialising in Aboriginal Theatre and cultural stories. He has been the Artistic Director of companies including Queensland Theatre Company 2010-15, Ilbijerri 2003-06 and Kooemba Jdarra 1994-97, as well as the Festival of Pacific Arts – Australia in 2008 and 2012. Wesley has been appointed the Director of Sydney Festival for the period from 2017 to 2019.
For balletomanes this was enthralling. Artistic Director David McAllister and music director and chief conductor Nicolette Fraillon from the Australian Ballet talked to Caroline Baum about the Company’s upcoming production of Nijinsky choreographed by internationally renowned John Neumeier which opens next week here in Sydney after a hugely successful season in Melbourne.
The premiere of the Nijinsky/ Stravinsky work Sacre du Printemps ( The Rite of Spring ) took place in Paris in May 1913 and famously caused a riot In the audience. What can we expect from this new work by Neumeier?!
Baum began by asking McAllister how he managed to obtain the rights to Neumeier’s work given that it is a work tightly controlled by the choreographer.
McAllister replied that several years ago now he attended performances and had talks with Neumeier but nothing really came of it until 2011 when they met again and made more definite arrangements. Continue reading CULTURE CLUB ON NIJINSKY AND STRAVINSKY @ THE UTZON ROOM
One of Australia’s most cherished musicians, David Helfgott, is set to return to the breathtaking Sydney Opera House Concert Hall this October with a special performance of popular romantic works for piano.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of SHINE, the film that catapulted Helfgott to worldwide fame. In a poignant celebration of the film’s anniversary, Helfgott will once again grace the stage of the Sydney Opera House for this incredible once-off solo concert.
A matinee recital for piano lovers of all ages, the concert will feature Helfgott’s selection of much-loved romantic classics including Beethoven’s ‘Appassionata’ Sonata No. 23 in F Minor, Chopin’s Ballade No. 1 in G Minor and a number of selections from Liszt. Continue reading DAVID HELFGOTT TO CELEBRATE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF SHINE WITH A PIANO RECITAL @ THE HOUSE
The latest scintillating panel in the exciting series of Culture Club talks was entitled HI-TECH STORIES . Chaired by Fenella Kernebone it considered how the use of sensors, lasers, virtual reality, online content, digital-real-time-audience-interaction and for example text messages have now been included and spiced up special effects and storylines for decades – artists and audiences continue to fervently embrace new technologies as fast as we can fund them. Lee Lewis (Griffin Theatre) TL Uglow (Google Creative Lab) and Gideon Obarzanek (ex Chunky Move) discussed the latest developments in creative technology in the theatrical world, its outcomes and effects ,particularly in theatre and dance.
One of the country’s leading directors, Lee Lewis is currently Artistic Director of the Griffin Theatre Company. Her production credits include working with companies Griffin, Bell Shakespeare, Sydney Theatre Company, Belvoir, ATYP and Sydney Festival.
TL Uglow , a contemporary writer and speaker on innovation and digital futures, leads part of Google’s Creative Lab specialising in work with cultural organisations, artists, writers, and producers. TL creates experiments using digital technology at the boundaries of traditional cultural practice – across theatre, literature, history, cinema, music, science and the circus.
Gideon Obarzanek is a director and choreographer, and is Artistic Associate with the Melbourne Festival, Chair of the Melbourne Fringe Festival and board member of Critical Path – Choreographic Research Centre based in Sydney. Gideon founded dance company Chunky Move in 1995 and was CEO until 2012.
Panel Chairperson Fenella Kernebone is the newly appointed Head of Curation for TedX Sydney and a radio and television presenter. She presents By Design on Radio National and The Sound Lab on Triple J.”
How do audiences today embrace the use of technology? How do the panel members embrace technology? Kernebone asked these and other burning questions and began with Where are we now with art and technology?
Lewis replied that she was caught between fear and hope .Uglow replied by saying it could all possibly be about the budget and funding and how culture has become institutionalised. Obarzanek replied by referring back to his work in the 1990’s and how now the issue is ‘ liveness’ and how people want to digitally interact and be in the same place as the performance. He continued by saying that technology is always changing and always has a role in performance – now it has become more seamless.
The next issue that was raised was – if the tecnology doesn’t work do you keep going ? and how now so much art depends on the use of technology. There was then talk of fashioning and enhancing the audience experience and how nowadays performances can be shared and viewed around the world.
Obarzanek talked about his work with Chunky Move and the use of technology as well as film in performance and asked when using technology (as in his Glow for example) do you embody the performance as a performer, a character or as a kinetic image?
He also looked at the history of dance and storytelling , mentioning in particular Loie Fuller and Alwin Nikolais, the use of projections and for Obarzanek’s Glow how light and image became part of the choreography.
He became fascinated with Reuben Margolin’s work with ‘string sculptures’ and this led to the work Connected with Chunky Move. Obarzanek said you need to engage the audience and help them appreciate what is out there .He then talked about working with large groups of people ( the choirs in his Assembly) who were not used to moving and how he used digital items when working with Sydney Dance and how he has used technology constantly.
Kernebone then asked how has technology shaped how the way that they work?
Lewis replied that she wants to develop a more intimate relationship with her audience, that you have to care about your audience.
Uglow talked about one of her latest projects featuring a network between phone and computers with writers talking about projects and technology in the real world.
Obarzanek spoke about the changes in technology and that now you can shift and play with all sorts of various apps, and how nowadays the division between audience and performer, between professional and amateur and those who are untrained, is quite blurred.
Uglow raised the issue of in today’s world of the constant use of mobiles, the framing of the object in the theatre, non linear construction of narrative and ownership of apps, licences and so on.
Lewis replied that yes there is now much more pressure on companies and performers to be much much better and how audiences are now more visually aware and how with technology they can provide feedback and that companies have to listen.
Lewis mentioned she would love an app or something that could one day come along and change the body, change the costume in performance – she wants the magic of theatre, of seeming to be able to teleport someone on stage, and instant scene changes…
Obarzanek talked about his collaborations with scientists, of images and light, his trip to Java and Lewis talked about live streaming of theatrical performances.
In summing up and answer to audience questions Lewis remarked that her work with Uglow has made her realise how traditional the theatrical form is and spoke about cultural traditions and preservation of the art form and the necessity for working across artforms and genres.
We then ran out of time .Kernebone thanked the panel and the session closed.
Running time – 75 mins ( roughly )
Hi-Tech stories as part of the Culture Club talks series was presented at the Utzon room of the Sydney Opera House 4 October
There is a famous theatre review of a show called A Good Time on Broadway in the 1960s. The review simply reads “NO” in a blank column of newsprint.
When choosing a name for a show, a lesser company might avoid giving an easy tagline to a critic but that is not a worry if you are the universally loved, world renowned theatre practitioners of THE FLYING FRUIT FLY CIRCUS. This company of ‘ordinary kids doing extraordinary things’ has joined with elders in their community to create a show simply entitled JUNK. And I can defiantly say “it is not”.
JUNK is set in a 1940’s junkyard. Why a junkyard? The Flying Fruit Flies are based in Albury/Wodonga and since the company’s inception as a school holiday project for the Year of the Child in 1979 they have been a community based organization. The company is committed to creating new and original works and in the research which began this project 2 years ago, the Fruities they reached out to ask about what ‘playing’ meant in the memories of those who were young a very long time since. Continue reading FLYING FRUIT FLY CIRCUS CONTINUES TO INSPIRE AND ASPIRE TO GREAT HEIGHTS
Rich and sumptuous, at times rather heavy and possibly overwhelming this marvelous concert combined the glorious forces of the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and the Sydney Youth Orchestra.
The conductor Brett Weymark was in energetic, enthusiastic form. The Orchestra was in great shape and performed with a glowing tone, finely nuanced and handling the various musical styles very well. Both the Orchestra and Choir were meticulously rehearsed and under Weymark’s direction caught the light and shade of the music from fragile, crystalline brilliance to thunderous, tumultuous pounding waves.
Soprano Penelope Mills and baritone Christopher Hillier, the two soloists, were in thrilling voice. Continue reading SYDNEY PHILHARMONIA CHOIRS AND SYDNEY YOUTH ORCHESTRA @ CONCERT HALL SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE
We were welcomed by Ann Mossop who then introduced the chairperson Monique Schafter . Schafter then introduced the high-flying panel – Nick Atkins , Michael Lynch CBE AM , Lily Shearer and Tamara Winikoff OAM and there was an intense , exuberant discussion.
Nick Atkins is currently the Producer for Q Programs at The Joan and Board Member of PACT Centre for Emerging Artists. His work at The Q has seen him develop and implement the Young Artist Program. Previously Nick worked as the Associate Producer and Co-Artistic Director of Crack Theatre Festival. From this role he collaboratively programmed the festivals presentation, panel and master class series.
Michael Lynch has led some of Australia’s most prominent arts companies including Sydney Theatre Company, the Australia Council for the Arts and the Sydney Opera House. From 2002 to 2009 he was chief executive of the South Bank Centre in London and has also served as Director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and as a board member of Film Victoria. Michael was the CEO of the West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong until 2015 and is now the chair of CIRCA as well as the Sydney Community Foundation.He has just been appointed interim head of the National Art School. Continue reading CULTURE CLUB : STATE OF THE ARTS @ UTZON ROOM SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE
AT LAST – THE ETTA JAMES STORY saw its world premiere in 2013 and since then has played to packed theatres and thunderous applause throughout Australia and New Zealand. Having recently completed a sell-out season at Arts Centre Melbourne this incredible show returns once more to The Sydney Opera House – for one week only!
Starring the sensational Vika Bull the show tells the story of soul legend Etta James turbulent life and features some of her most beloved songs including Tell Mama, I’d Rather Go Blind, her iconic signature song At Last and more.
Vika puts her heart and soul into this unforgettable show and is joined on stage by some Australia’s nest and funkiest musicians.
During a long career that saw her win six Grammy Awards and a star on The Hollywood Walk Of Fame, Etta James has influenced a vast array of artists. Sadly, her frantic recording and touring schedule coincided with her ever-growing addiction problems and over time she not only sang the blues…she lived the blues.
Mercifully, her passion for life and strength of character saw her conquer her demons and she continued to record and perform into her seventies.
This is her story.
AT LAST : THE ETTA JAMES STORY will play the Drama Theatre at the Sydney Opera House between July 12 and July 17.
Given the choice, would you save your family and yourself from persecution or condemn others to certain death?
BLONDE POISON is a remarkable one-woman play about beauty, treachery and the high price of survival, starring Best Actress Nominee at the 2015 Sydney Theatre Awards, Belinda Giblin. Back by popular demand for a strictly limited season, see one of Australia’s leading actresses like you’ve never seen her before at the Studio theatre, Sydney Opera House from 28 April. Tickets are on sale from 22 February. Continue reading BLONDE POISON @ STUDIO THEATRE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE
“As long as she thinks of a man, nobody objects to a woman thinking.”
― Virginia Woolf, Orlando
Understanding Orlando andVirginia Woolf, the first in a a new series of inspirational and informative talks presented by the Sydney Opera House, under the umbrella title CULTURE CLUB, took place in the wonderful setting of the Utzon Room and featured the glorious backdrop of Sydney Harbour with sea-craft sailing by and a jeweled, gently billowing and pulsating sea.
With a packed audience listening intently this talk, co-presented by Professor Annamarie Jagose and Sarah Goodes was all about Virginia Woolf and Orlando, the current magnificent Sydney Theatre Company production on at the moment in the Drama Theatre starring the brilliant Jacqueline McKenzie. Continue reading SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE PRESENTS CULTURE CLUB: UNDERSTANDING ORLANDO AND VIRGINIA WOOLF
The penultimate event in the 2015 Utzon Music Series was a recital by pianist Benjamin Grosvenor. This performer showed how he has developed from an award-winning child prodigy to current touring phenomenon in his early twenties. This path continues to be strewn with tour de force technique and a magical level of musicianship.
One of the first qualities to be witnessed about Benjamin Grosvenor’s musical delivery was his impressive stillness, steadiness and stamina. The spirited performance was virtuosic without wasting or misdirecting a skerrick of keyboard energy. Continue reading BENJAMIN GROSVENOR PIANO RECITAL @ THE UTZON ROOM
An energetic and enlightened example of a concert format from the late 18th century was welcomed heartily by the crowd attending HAYDN’S BRAVURA. The collaboration between the artistic director of the Australian Haydn Ensemble (AHE), Skye McIntosh and musical director Erin Helyard was dynamic as they led the ensemble with informed resolve and joyous music making in the Sydney Opera House’s Utzon Room.
In late eighteenth century style, this programme added continuo layers to embellish set standard formats such as the string quartet. Also, the Symphony No 102 by Joseph Haydn was not performed as a whole or even in order. Other music was interspersed between the movements in a ‘mash-up’ style to provide events with even more variety. Continue reading Australian Haydn Ensemble: Haydn’s Bravura @ Utzon Room Sydney Opera House
Everything goes like a dream in this latest production of the celebrated Broadway musical.
Dean Bryant directs and Andrew Hallsworth choreographs with Caroline O’Connor and Todd McKenney, two legends of Australian music theatre, headlining the cast supported by some thirty talented and vibrant performers.
The story to ANYTHING GOES concerns the madcap antics aboard an ocean liner bound from New York to London. Billy Crocker is a stowaway in love with heiress Hope Harcourt, who is engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Nightclub singer Reno Sweeney and Public Enemy Number 13 Moonface Martin aid Billy in his quest to win Hope. Continue reading ANYTHING GOES @ THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE
Verdi’s classic tragedy of the ‘fallen woman’, LA TRAVIATA, is enjoying a revival in Sydney via the lush realism of director Elijah Moshinsky’s 1994 version. The motifs of fragility, sacrifice and disintegration emerge from the striking detail of the salon scenes and effectively contrasted desolate locations.
Michael Yeargan’s four highly contrasted sets remain design achievements which are a treat for newcomers and former fans alike. The costuming created by Peter J Hall for both formal party scenes and domestic life complement each striking backdrop.
In the story’s opening party hosted by courtesan Violetta Valéry, we see her return to the social scene after a break to receive treatment for tuberculosis. A shock profession of love from Alfredo Germont, challenges and confuses Violetta. Continue reading Opera Australia Presents Verdi’s La Traviata @ The Dame Joan Theatre
It has been said that there are two emotions, love and fear. The creative pairing of Puccini and Graeme Murphy is successful in vividly outlining such feelings in the current revival of Murphy’s stunning production.
Conductor Christian Badea presents a strong realisation of Puccini’s atmospheric score. Inspired by this music, Murphy uses intersecting movement prescribed for sub-sections of the ensemble as well as challenging unisons at times such as human waves depicting swirling emotions and troubled minds.
The setting, Peking’s Imperial Palace, is evoked with excellent composite sets and shifting textures as designed by Kristian Fredrikson. His detailed costuming and props dazzle, as does the choreography which asks for these to be manipulated during poses so as to hide or reveal the characters’ vulnerabilities or suggest general unrest. Continue reading Opera Australia’s Turandot @ The Dame Joan
The latest ACO concert, EGARR AND THE GOLDEN AGE shines with brilliance from every part of its varied programme. Incidental music to theatre sits well beside an adaptation of viol consort music. Works from the early concerto styles are successfully placed beside symphonic style. The British and Germanic styles developing between 1641 and 1783 are juxtaposed with stunning effect.
Guest soloist and director, Richard Egarr, Music Director of the Academy of Ancient Music, leads from both harpsichord and fortepiano. His charismatic playing and interpretation of the various compositional styles joins with the ACO’s expertise in delivering exciting early music moments. Continue reading ACO presents Egarr and the Golden Age @ City Recital Hall Angel Place
Gender bending rock God iOTA is back in a brand new, sexy as hell rock show that he has directed, and which he has scripted with his long time collaborator Craig Illot.
The award-winning star of international smash-hits Berlin (with Sydney Dance Company ), Smoke & Mirrors, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and The Rocky Horror Show amongst others, iOTA brings his signature rock ‘n’ roll, vaudeville style to his new show.
The somewhat confusing and convoluted plot concerns the story of a young woman, Rachel (Blazey Best), who has a mass of problems and challenges including an unhappy relationship with a fiery-tempered husband played by Ashley Lyons. In order to cope she manufactures a kind of fantasy world to slip into. Continue reading B-Girl @ The Playhouse Sydney Opera House
Hotly anticipated the Mark Morris Dance Group has not been seen in Sydney since 2003.
Mark Morris has more than thirty years and 150 works– including commissions from the world’s top ballet companies – to his credit His 20-strong ensemble of dancers were last in Australia for the Perth International Arts Festival .
In this programme we saw four short works that exemplifies the company’s distinct style and reminds us why Morris is regarded as one of the finest contemporary choreographers. Continue reading Mark Morris Dance Group @ The Joan Sutherland Auditorium Sydney Opera House