This Opera was composed by Alan John and with co- librettist Dennis Watkins has been renamed for its twentieth anniversary performance. It was first staged in 1996 and televised by ABC tv.
As part of the Handa Productions’ outdoor spectacles the Opera was performed on the Opera House steps by a dozen of Australia’s finest singers who played forty different characters. Giant screens display historic photos of the Houses’ construction and platforms glide across the hundred metre wide steps to ensure that there are expeditious scene changes. Gerry Connolly reprises his role as the Queen who opened the Opera House.
It tells the history of the Opera House from its genesis through its troubled construction period including the Architects’ resignation, the cost blow-outs, and its opening against all odds. It also shows the behind the scenes political jostling which threatened its existence as well as the cultural milieu wherein discussions about the Opera House took place (including a backyard barbie complete with hills hoist).
However the truly unique aspect of this performance is that it is the first time Australian Opera has staged a silent Opera. The chorus and orchestra performed live in the Opera House interior whilst the soloists on the steps are miked and the combined sound transmitted to state of the art Audio Technica headphones which achieved the perfect balance between vocals and orchestra. It runs till November 5.
All images by Ben Apfelbaum.