From Theatrical Realism to Epic Productions

Opera has always been considered to be a somewhat rarefied art form for a select audience and the connoisseurs of music and theatre. Grand productions in exotic locations endeavour to be much more engaging which intend to dazzle and sometimes become a reason to visit a city or destination.

For some years now the Handa Opera feature a peerformance for a limited season during April on a floating stage opposite the iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge in Sydney. What a wonderful reason to visit Sydney – to be wowed by an amazing set, with backdrops that are larger than life. It often rains in Sydney during April and occasionally a performance is cancelled – however even if the stage is almost flooded by torrents of rain, the performers battle on and the enthralled audience don ponchos, reluctant to miss a minute.

Here is Carmen performed in 2013, Turandot in 2017 and Aida in 2018:
*(Photo: Hamilton Lund))

A scene from Turandot in 2017.

(Photo: Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour youtube snip)

And two scenes from Aida as performed in 2018.

(Photo: Hamilton Lund)

(Photo: Hamilton Lund)

On two occasions I booked tickets to a Handa Opera and flights to Sydney – alas to my regret due to inclement weather or poor health I had to offer my tickets to Sydney friends. Westside Story has been selected for 2019 – perhaps I will try again.

Some operas are especially conducive to presenting as a grand spectacle. In 1988, Australia’s bicentennial year, I was thrilled to attend a performance of Aida at the Sydney Football Stadium. Last year I discarded 50 years worth of theatre programs, including this one, and I was not able to find any images to show you. However, I do remember the stage filled with real Elephants, Camels and a wealth of other animals – it was indeed an amazing sight to behold. I also recall torrential rain however we were completely mesmerised and oblivious to being soaked through!

I have found an image though of the latest outdoor production of Aida – just this week at the Verona Summer Festival. Now there is a great excuse to plan a trip to Verona for their festival in 2019!

(Photo: Arena.it)

Turandot is another opera often presented in grand dimensions and locations. Images below are from Bregenz, Austria (2015) and again Verona in 2018. (Photo: Getty Images/Jan Hetfleisch)

(Photo: Arena.it)

The most stunning though, was Turandot staged at the Forbidden City in Beijing in 1998, Puccini’s actual setting for the opera, featuring an international cast with a Chinese Director.
(Photo: youtube snip) Photo: youtube snip)

The story of Princess Turandot is of a woman of great beauty, but an icy heart will only marry a man that answers 3 riddles: many fail to her great satisfaction. But then one day a man succeeds: she is initially horrified but then succumbs to love.

Even those not familiar with opera, would recognise the pivotal aria Nessum Dorma - made famous in the 1990s when sung by Luciano Pavarotti– especially during the Three Tenors concerts and tours.

In another blog I will feature Andre Rieu – he has popularised classical waltzes – much to the chagrin of the Viennese music buffs.

Anne Newman

Oil Painter in realistic genre style, predominantly buildings and people. To continue the discussion contact Anne on anewman@netspace.net.au or phone +61 407 516 522

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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