• Archives
  • Categories
  • Opera on Sydney Harbour: Big wigs overshadowed by Aida’s Egyptian queen

    2018 - 12.21

    Rehearsals of Opera on Sydney Harbour’s production of Aida have weathered rain and shine. Photo: Dominic LorrimerAida’s High Priestess comes out of the wings for Handa Opera on Sydney HarbourKardashians inspire Opera on Sydney Harbour costumesVerdi’s Aida the next Opera on Sydney Harbour
    Nanjing Night Net

    It takes a big head to dwarf the big wigs of opera and politics.

    However, Queen Nefertiti’s 15-tonne noggin, even with an eye missing and what appears to be severe acne, easily overshadowed the powers behind Opera on Sydney Harbour.

    The 18-metre-tall head, which is deliberately in a state of decay, is the centrepiece of this year’s outdoor production of Verdi’s Aida.

    However, she will have to compete for attention with fireworks, camels and a group of scantily clad muscular dancers, whose arrival at Wednesday’s media call prompted Opera Australia’s artistic director, Lyndon Terracini, to ask if Mardi Gras was still on.

    Terracini said the cast, featuring US soprano Latonia Moore, had some of the greatest opera singers in the world.

    “This is an extraordinary production by [director] Gale Edwards,” he said. “It has so many layers, incredibly spectacular, but it also has a real purpose to it.”

    The production costs about $10 million and receives funding from Destination NSW, the state government’s tourism and events agency, and Haruhisa Handa, a Japanese businessman and Shinto priest. Handa’s multimillion-dollar donation kicked off the outdoor shows in 2012.

    Yet, Handa has never seen the outdoor show live.

    “Well, he says he’s coming, but then again he says he’s coming every year,” Terracini said. “But he said to me that he’s going to try his utmost to be here on the last night.”

    Opera Australia has also sought to allay safety concerns raised by the union representing performers, including the angle of raked stages, issues associated with wet weather and working in direct sunlight.

    Terracini said the stage was less steep than last year’s production of Madama Butterfly.

    “I think people, once they get used to the fact you’re outdoors, that it’s [a] different performing sensation, that’s how you adapt.”

    Equity director Zoe Angus said: “Equity takes seriously the obligation of employers to ensure the safety of all workers, and the need to be especially vigilant when working in non-typical environments away from usual rehearsal and performance venues.”

    Former NSW arts minister George Souris, who was dumped from cabinet last year by Premier Mike Baird, said Opera on Sydney Harbour was “one of the great things the NSW government has done”.

    He said the outdoor show, now in its fourth year, had attracted more than 11,000 international visitors to Sydney and brought new people to opera “in their thousands”.

    The opera company’s chief executive, Craig Hassall, said 40,000 tickets had been sold for Aida so far; more than for the entire season of Madama Butterfly last year.

    “I’m very happy to say the sales are tremendous, that’s what keeps me calm and happy,” he said.

    However, with 78,000 seats to fill over a longer four-week run and a sales target of 50,000, Hassall said there were many more tickets to sell.

    Hassall estimated three-quarters of the show’s budget went on logistics and the rest was spent on the cast, creative team and the manufacture of the set and costumes.

    “It’s fairer to say it covers its costs for us,” he said. “The costs are high. You can see, if you look around, there’s a lot you have to spend to create this entire site.”

    Opera on Sydney Harbour 2015: Aida is on from March 27 to April 26.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

    Comments are closed.