Above : One of the digital sets designed by Damien Cooper. Virgilio Marino as Goro, Karah Son as Cio-Cio-San and Andeka Gorrotxategi as Pinkerton.  Featured image : Karah Son as Cio-Cio-San with Sian Sharp as Suzuki. Photo credit for both images : Prudence Upton.

The day you see Opera Australia’s current production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly will be one fine day indeed. This version creates amazing stage atmospheres from which its characters’ arrogance and anguish can unfold.

Opera Australia continues its vibrant and successful partnership with director Graeme Murphy. Ensemble members and principals alike move around the glossy contemporary set with luminous
expression and ominous tension.

Production Designer Michael Scott-Mitchell has perched a moveable glossy platform in the centre of the stage as a focus for action. It tilts up high with a border of curved spikes, and it slopes on a slippery angle of impending doom.

Central to the essence of this new production is the use of digital sets, with video and projection design by Damien Cooper. An enthralling recent addition to Opera Australia’s scenic arsenal, the ebb and flow of such excellent imagery matches the hyper-contemporary style of the static set structures.

Around the digital set design, which alternates between the ornamental and fiercely figurative, Jennifer Irwin’s brilliant costumes swathe all characters in effective shapes and textures.

The use of dark hues as a costume base complements the setand contrasts with the brighter projections. Cio-Cio-San’s angered uncle The Bonze bursting onto the stage with an origami crane on his back is a startling gem of costuming.

The female ensemble members glide around the tilted stage always interestingly and suitably costumed. There is acerbic caricature and sheer beauty in the range of outfits worn. References to period style, geisha life and turn of the century art movements float with sharp comment before our eyes.

This busy yet striking visual smorgasbord aside, the production still drips with beautiful musical moments. Thanks to conductor Massimo Zanetti, the  visual impact exists alongside beautifully woven moments of Puccini music. The score unfolds full of fine balance, rich colour and accessible verismo dialogue.

Above : Andeka Gorrotxategi as Pinkerton and Karah Son as Cio-Cio-San. Photo credit : Prudence Upton.

Cio-Cio-San emerges in her contemporary geisha outfit of shiny black PVC  bound at the waist with a mess of red cords. Soprano Karah Son takes solid command of the stage from this point on. She is vocally focussed and a believable actor. We delight in her beautifully substantial tone rising from  fleeting utterances and  more extended vocal moments alike.

Impressive flexibility of character and voice comes from Michael Honeyman in the role of Sharpless. A fine level of vocal chemistry is present in later scenes with an emotionally stretched Butterfly.
Likewise the role of Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton is sung with sweet and pure tone by Andeka Gorrotxategi.  He is continually a fine portrait of a uniformed man from the early twentieth century.

Sian Sharp in the role of Butterfly’s attendant Suzuki gives a gutsy performance above, below and on the skew fragment of stage parapet. Her moments on stage emanate with attitude,
strength, considerable humanity and a syrup-like low register to lose yourself in.

This production is Madama Butterfly as few could have typically imagined, but it works. Regarding the introduction of digital set technology, careful checking of the extent to which an opera audience can be overwhelmed visually will be a sensible aim over the next few operas which use it.

For now, opera in Australia has a bold, bright new skin. The goosebumps it gives electrify.

Madama Butterfly plays at the Dame Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House until August 10.


This was a night at the opera where one is just swept along by the lush music and the great silliness of the plot. It is a blt like a Shakespeare comedy  except of course the work is by the great team of Gilbert and Sullivan.

This MIKADO  has been well directed by Elizabeth Lowrencev with a very fine orchestra conducted by Vincent Colagiuri

Brett Cocker made a very grand and regal entrance late in the play as the Mikado of Japan.

Daniel Verschuer gave a very fine performance as the Mikado’s son, disguised as a wandering minstrel. His comic timing was excellent as he often wanted to do himself in but was stopped at the last moment. Continue reading ROCKDALE OPERA COMPANY PRESENTS ‘THE MIKADO’


TodayTix, the digital gateway to arts and cultural experiences that launched in Sydney in March, will offer exclusive $45 ‘mobile Rush’ tickets in partnership with Opera Australia for their production of Madama Butterfly at Sydney Opera House from Friday, 28 June.

TodayTix first introduced the mobile Rush ticket technology to Australia by offering exclusive $45 mobile Rush tickets to all performances of Opera Australia’s in-demand production West Side Story on Sydney Harbour. All mobile Rush tickets were claimed within seconds of being released each day, resulting in more than 600 new patrons experiencing the special Harbour production for a fraction of the cost. Now, TodayTix and Opera Australia plan to expand upon that success for Madama Butterfly. Continue reading TODAYTIX OFFERS GREAT DISCOUNT TO MADAMA BUTTERFLY



 After an absence of 12 years, Gilbert and Sullivan’s much loved operetta, THE MIKADO, will make its welcome return to Rockdale Town Hall in a brand new production.

THE MIKADO is arguably the most popular of all of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas. It is set in a mythical Japan and tells the story of the star-crossed lovers Nanki Poo and Yum Yum, the cheap tailor Ko Ko who has been elevated to the Exalted rank of Lord High Executioner, Pooh Bah Lord High Everything Else, Katisha an elderly lady from the Emperor’s court in love with Nanki Poo, and the Mikado himself. The opera is filled with glorious singing from the cast of principals and the ensemble. The wonderful score features some of the most beautiful and popular melodies including Three Little Maids from School, I Have a Little List, and the well-known Tit-Willow.

This new production is being directed by Elizabeth Lowrencev with Musical Direction by Vincent Colagiuri. Brett Crocker will play the part of The Mikado, Daniel Verschuer will play Nanki Poo, Andrew Brunsdon Ko Ko, Gordon Costello Pooh-Bah, Vi King Lim will play Pish-Tush, Kirralee Elliott will play Yum-Yum, Zoe Yalouris will play Pitti-Sing, Imogen Bilinksy will play Peep-Bo and Carli Partridge will play Katisha.

The season will run from the opening night on Saturday 22nd June to Sunday 30th June. Performances are Saturday 22nd June at 7.30pm, Sunday 23rd June at 2pm, Saturday 29th June at 7.30pm and Sunday 30th June at 2pm.

The show will run approximately 3 hours including one 20 minute interval. Duration: Tickets range from $35 to $50. The season will run from the opening night on Saturday 22nd June to Sunday 30th June. Performances are Saturday 22nd June at 7.30pm, Sunday 23rd June at 2pm, Saturday 29th June at 7.30pm and Sunday 30th June at 2pm.


Sydney Arts Guide has one double pass to give away to the opening night. Email  editor.sydneyartsguide@gmail.com with The Mikado giveaway in the subject heading. In the body of the email give your main reason why you would like to see this show.  The winner will be advised by email with the tickets being available for collection at the Box Office.

Editor’s Note : This promotion has now closed and the winner has been advised.



This is an event that sounds like a perfect thing to do late on a Sunday afternoon.  Opera Australia is presenting a concert GREAT OPERA HITS when Opera Australia stars will sing popular arias from some of the world’s greatest operas in a 90 minute concert with one interval. The singers will be accompanied by a pianist. 

Highlights  will include:

ROSSINI ‘Largo al factotum’ from The Barber of Seville

BIZET Excerpts from Carmen

DELIBES ‘Flower Duet’ from Lakme

BIZET ‘Au fond du temple saint’ duet from The Pearlfishers

VERDI Brindisi from La Traviata

PUCCINI ‘Nessun dorma’ from Turandot

PUCCINI ‘E lucevan le stelle’ from Tosca

The recurring Sunday afternoon  concert will take place between July 7 and October 27  (start time of 5pm)  so there will be plenty of chances to see the show.  

Cultural guide and affordable ticketing app, TodayTix is offering Sydneysiders $54 tickets to the show.

What: Opera Australia Presents Great Opera Hits

When: July 7 – October 27 2019

Where: Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House – Bennelong Point, Sydney, NSW 2000

Price: $54 + $5 booking fee, available via TodayTix.




Following seasons in Adelaide, Edinburgh and St Petersburg, Russia, CHAMBER POT OPERA has returned to Sydney to play in Australia’s foremost Opera venue, the Sydney Opera House. 

The big thing about this event is that it takes place not in the main Opera Theatre but the opera took place in the Ladies Bathroom next to the Playhouse Theatre. The premise is that a lot of meaningful interactions take place in women’s public bathrooms so why not make it the setting for a small piece.                     Continue reading CHAMBER POT OPERA @ SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

Radamisto – Presented by the Apollo Opera Collective

Image Credit – Charlotte Kelso

The Apollo Opera Collective presents Handel’s Radamisto
The Apollo Opera Collective is an exciting young artist’s opera company committed to showcasing Australia’s best new young voices. Led by Artistic Director Keiren Brandt Sawdy, Assistant Conductor of Pinchgut Opera and a graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music’s conducting program, AOC aims to provide a much needed platform for talented young artists to develop the expertise to launch their careers. The company is entirely driven by the artists themselves, who work collaboratively on all the different aspects of staging the opera.

After an extremely successful debut performance of Ariodante in February 2018, The Apollo Opera Collective returns to Mary Immaculate Church, Waverley to perform Handel’s masterpiece Radamisto. Directed by Robert Macfarlane, this production of a rarely performed work follows the warring families of Tiridate and Radamisto as they fight for power.

“Radamisto was the first opera Handel composed for the Royal Academy of Music. This was the company that in later years would commission some of Handel’s most famous works, such as Giulio Cesare, Rodelinda and Tamerlano. But before all of them there was Radamisto, a masterpiece of Baroque Opera and a box-office triumph in its day. AOC are thrilled to bring this work to the Sydney stage.” – Keiren Brandt-Sawdy

These performances will be accompanied by the Orchestra of the Sydney Baroque Music Festival, comprising some of Australia’s best young historically informed instrumentalists.

Two performances only. Dates: Friday, April 26 and Saturday, April 27 at 7.30pm

Venue: Mary Immaculate Church, 45A Victoria St, Waverley, NSW 2024

Tickets: $45 available at https://www.trybooking.com/BBJUH

For more information call Keiren Brandt Sawdy on 0408 476 507

For more about Radamisto – Presented by the Apollo Opera Collective, visit
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Rockdale Opera Company presents: REFLECTIONS OF OPERA IN CINEMA, A CABARET.  This will be a cabaret celebration of musical highlights of Opera in Cinema Featuring Megan Chalmers, Nik Roglich, Julie Paik and many more, accompanied by the Rockdale Opera Company ensemble.

Saturday 13th April 2019 at 2pm and 7.30pm at Rockdale Town HalL, 448 Princess Highway, Rockdale.

For more about Reflections in Opera in Cinema Cabaret, visit http://rockdaleopera.com.au
Find us on: YouTube | Facebook



photo credit Raphael Neal

PIANO EX MACHINA is the latest mind-bending piano and multimedia international tour by award-winning London-based pianist, Zubin Kanga. Kanga returns to Australia this April to perform newly commissioned ground-breaking works exploring video games, internet culture, 80s action cinema, sci-fi, 3D motion sensors, interactive visuals, analogue synths, stop-motion animation and Artificial Intelligence.

Following his acclaimed 2015 DARK TWIN and 2016 CYBORG PIANIST tour, Zubin Kanga returns in a program of ground-breaking works for piano and multimedia by some of the hottest composers from around the world.

13 April 2019 7.30pm-9.30pm at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music

For more about Zubin Kanga’s Australian premiere of Piano Ex Machina, visit https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/piano-ex-machina-sydney-tickets-58007621357
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Following seasons in Adelaide, Edinburgh and St Petersburg, Russia, CHAMBER POT OPERA returns to Sydney to play in Australia’s foremost Opera venue, the Sydney Opera House for its final season, commencing 11 April 2019. Tickets went on sale on Friday 22 February.

 CHAMBER POT OPERA tells the story of three women who meet for the first time in a public bathroom. One is in an abusive relationship, another is terrified that she has come on too strong on a date, and the third has been promoted through the glass ceiling to land her dream job. Together they sing of shared histories, traumas and fantasies using a catalogue of popular music from the operas of Puccini, Mozart and Bizet.

The production will be performed  for only 42 audience members at a time in the elegant Playhouse Ladies Bathroom at the Sydney Opera House. The three performers will utilise the entirety of the splendid and intimate space from the bathroom sinks and decorative mirrors to the hand dryers and toilet stalls to weave together a story in a setting where women can safely express themselves.

Originally performed in November 2016, this new season of CHAMBER POT OPERA Is due in no small part to the Sydney Opera House’s commitment to creating new operas for contemporary audiences as well as its commitment to fostering new, young, and exciting artistic talent.

CHAMBER POT OPERA features a talented team of singers and creatives from NIDA and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Created by director Clemence Williams (Banging Denmark), musical director Keiren Brandt-Sawdy (Mansfield Park) and dramaturg Thomas De Angelis (Unfinished Works) and with a cast including Sally Alrich-Smythe (The Phantom of the Opera), Britt Lewis (Rent) and Jessica Westcott (La Boheme), this production brings together Australia’s next generation of opera performers and creators.

Director and co-creator Clemence Williams says that this season “is the culmination of three years of touring the world and bringing our message of the timelessness and beauty of opera to the masses, one bathroom at a time!” The idea for the show came from Williams’ own experience being a performer confined to the ‘bitches, witches and breeches’ roles in opera.



Above: Gennadi Dubinsky as First Soldier, Paul O’Neill as Narraboth, Alexander Krasnov as Jokanaan, Lise Windstorm as Salome, Ryan Sharp as Second Solider and Alexander Hargreaves as Cappadocian. Featured image: Lise Lindstrom as Salome. Photo credit: Prudence Upton.

A visually stunning and musically riveting version of Richard Strauss’ Salome is now playing at the Sydney Opera House’s Dame Joan Sutherland Theatre. Opera Australia’s revival of this 2012
production is a compelling modern romp. The quality creative team and cast deliver a slick and penetrating performance event to us on a scintillating platter.

Presented without interval, this focussed tranche d’opera is an attractive package for all assembled. Vivid set design from Brian Thomson works very well with John Rayment’s relentlessly excellent lighting so the scandalous, self-centered and seedy world of Herod, Herodias and the manipulative young Salome are appropriately packaged.

There is a captivating rear tapestry with repeated full body x-rays which respond in savage mood-ring-like lighting sequences to reflect the manipulation of the sacrificial beast or prophet and the hysteria levels of other cast members. From a steamily lit cell comes John the Baptist’s voice foretelling the arrival of Jesus Christ to help the Tetrach Herod and other lusty punters repent.

The conflicts of faith, behaviour and persecution or imprisonments various on this layered stage set for this Biblical tale are many. This opera requires a troupe of fine character actors to satisfactorily
depict the predicament of all trapped dramatis personae from Oscar Wilde’s play.

Opera Australia’s version is not wanting in this regard. Even the mute moments of movement and curiosity depicted by the slaves and guards around the cell and Salome are fleeting moments
brimming with expression.

The infamous dance of the seven veils demanded by Herod of his step-daughter Salome is given a modern boost thanks to the innovation of choreographer Kelley Abbey, continued lavish and tongue in cheek costuming from Julie Lynch and a big salute to recent pop culture and fetish icons. The dance styles include pole dancers and acrobatic aerialists thrill. A favourite twentieth century movie star celebrity and special interest sex outfits are also tangled up in the stage drama as  fitting caricatures for Herod’s dwelling.

The successful stage chemistry is gilded not just by suggestive outfits but a realisation of Richard Strauss’ challenging vocal score and pointed German translation of Wilde’s play. Conductor
Johannes Fritzsch leads the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra in a compelling and bold delivery of the musical emotions throughout, from the tiniest motif to broader utterances.

Lise Lindstrom’s command of the stage, the music and facets of her character saw her work as an unfailing triple threat opera superstar. The crowd supplied primal cheers and applause at the conclusion at a fitting level for Salome’s demonstrated bloodlust.

The hero’s applause Lindstrom’s powerfully diverse tone and characterisation received rivalled any Australian sporting hero’s sideline screaming of fans. And rightfully so, as her chillingly athletic performance is not to be missed.

In the role of Herodias Jacqueline Dark’s beautiful timbral depths combine with cheeky and confrontational movement around the set swathed in wonderful colour. Andreas Conrads gives a lively performance as the failed lecherous King Herod in degrees of emotional and physical deshabillé as he struggles with the prophet, his women and his higher compulsive power. All crowned with a somewhat whimsical gold headpiece.

When either de profundis off stage or chained before us, Alexander Krasnov as the prophet Jokanaan’s vocal strength above the rich orchestral layer haunts us. His ensemble interactions are full of otherwordly mysticism and he moves as one whose cause can’t be silenced even if he is decapitated at the angry whim of a teenager imprisoned in a strange adult world.

This is a darkly sensual and exciting piece of theatre from which you just can’t turn away. Its compact length, visual packaging and directness make it a perfect vehicle to celebrate or introduce opera for us in a modern audience as a completely relevant and powerful way to be entertained.

Salome plays at the Dame Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House until March 26.