The heavy rain could not dampen the anticipation the first night audience felt with the Handa sponsored West Side Story on Sydney harbour. Held at the first Fleet steps at Mrs Macquaries Chair.

Celebrities, stars and politicians mingled happily together, although all achieved an anonymity when covered with their non plastic white ponchos.

The audience looked like a Hazmat convention complete with white protection suits.

At the after party CEO of Opera Australia Rory Jeffes emphasised the show’s important message which was the way in which a society’s intolerance can lead to tragedy and misery.

A justifiably jubilant Lyndon Terracini, Opera Australia’s Artistic Director, thanked the cast and crew singling out individuals who went above and beyond the call of duty .

After the storm cleared the upper floor of the northern terrace revealed a spectacular view of the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge and a three masted tall ship.

Like opera lovers who have just seen Carmen many of the audience left humming the familiar and iconic tunes of WEST SIDE STORY.

All photos by Ben Apfelbaum