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Where to catch outdoor opera in Australia this year

Nowhere does al fresco opera quite like Australia. Here are five places where you can frock up to hear a glorious aria or two.

By Katrina Lobley
Published: 13 February, 2017

Australia is home to one of the world’s most stunning opera houses – but that doesn’t mean we don’t like to mix things up. Thanks to our glorious weather, opera productions can be found in all sorts of locations, from an astonishing stage suspended over Sydney Harbour to a Gold Coast beach. 


See Carmen on Sydney Harbour

Carmen, Sydney, New South Wales

When: 24 March – 23 April
Tickets: $$ – $$$

This year, Handa Opera returns with a glamorous production of the classic Bizet opera, Carmen, set against a backdrop that includes the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Take a spot on the tiered seating just after the sun sets and be captivated by the classic tale of Spanish enchantment and fate all set off by soaring arias, fireworks and vibrant costumes.


Sing along to the songs

Opera at Jimbour, Queensland

When: 22 July 
Tickets: Free

Audience participation will be encouraged at this year’s Opera at Jimbour, held in the village three hours drive north-west of Brisbane on the Western Downs. Set against an imposing, two-storey sandstone mansion that only opens for special events, a free semi-staged performance of The Merry Widow will unfold before you. Australia’s favourite leading man, David Hobson, will play the role of Count Danilo and guests are encouraged to arrive early for a pre-show rehearsal where they will learn the words to the Vilia chorus.


Egyptian tale unfolds on Australian sands

When: 21 – 30 September 
Tickets: $ – $$

Opera on the Beach’s new production of Verdi’s Aida is a sweeping tale of a royal love and a fight for freedom in ancient Egypt. Set on the sand at Coolangatta on the Gold Coast, the production features a huge cast, a passionate orchestra, vocal and actual fireworks, colourful costumes, local surf life savers parading past on the beach and, of course, a rousing Triumphal March – one of the most primal moments in the operatic repertoire. 


Raise a toast to wine and song

When: 21 October 
Tickets: $ – $$

Australia’s most beloved opera stars will take to the stage for this year’s Opera in the Vineyards – a two-hour drive north of Sydney – to sing some of the greatest works ever composed. Sip a glass or two of wine from the famed surrounds of the Hunter Valley, browse the dinner options and enjoy the picturesque vineyard setting. 


Arias head underground

Opera in the Reservoir, Brisbane, Queensland

When: 11 – 20 November
Tickets: $ – $$

The Underground Opera Company is back and with performances at Brisbane’s Spring Hill Reservoir, they’re taking their name seriously. The reservoir is a subterranean structure with hand-built brick archways that once supplied water to the Queensland capital. Now the Underground Opera Company’s artists return to perform opera arias, duets and ensemble pieces, with a dash of musical theatre thrown in for good measure. The company also performs in a medieval-style museum on the Sunshine Coast, in caves near Rockhampton in central Queensland and at a working mine (where the dress code includes hard hats) in Mt Isa in north-west Queensland.