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Opera on Sydney HarbourMarch 24 - April 23

  • Sydney
  • Art and Culture
  • Major Events
  • Opera
  • New South Wales

Sydney, New South Wales

Enjoy a world-class opera production set in one of the planet's most spectacular outdoor locations. 

Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour is not just an opera, it’s a complete night’s entertainment under the summer night sky. This unforgettable event includes Sydney’s iconic skyline as its backdrop. Arrive by water taxi, drink and dine in style at the pop-up bars and restaurants, then sit back in the tiered seats to take in the drama.

Reasons to attend

1. Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour is set in what is easily Sydney’s most spectacular spot, offering an unusual perspective on the bright lights of the city and its most famous icons. The stage is constructed out over the water, but for the audience the show’s backdrop also includes the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, city skyscrapers and the twinkling stars overhead.

2. Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour began in 2012. Audiences were treated to La Traviata in 2012, Carmen in 2013 and Madama Butterfly in 2014 and Aida in 2015. The next exciting event will be the spectacular Turandot.

3. Artistically, Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour keeps getting better and better, with The Sydney Morning Herald’s Peter McCallum calling Madama Butterfly in 2014 ''the strongest of the three Handa Operas on Sydney Harbour, mixing challenging ideas and haunting images''. On AIDA, Time Out said, “For anyone experiencing Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour (HOSH) for the first time, Aida cannot fail to impress…the stunning backdrop of Sydney’s skyline, stars, and a crescent moon; the glittering, kaleidoscope spectacle on the stage in front of you – from the giant bust of Nerfertiti to the ultra-camp costumes, live camels, and now customary fireworks display”.

4. One reason Madama Butterfly outdid itself was the innovative use of the location, with set designer Alfons Flores drawing on the East Asian garden design concept of "borrowed scenery" to make vast stretches of Port Jackson part of his operatic stage.

5. One of the most brilliant aspects of the Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour design is the way in which the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra is housed underneath the stage. They have a complete sound ‘shell’ with the music projected out into the audience via hundreds of hidden speakers. The award-winning sound design is testament to the success Opera Australia has had in making sure it sounds as good as it looks!

6. It’s certainly fun to dress up for the opera, and many who attend Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour take advantage of the opportunity to get dressed up. But it’s equally fine to dress casually. Opera Australia urges patrons heading to these outdoor performances to dress comfortably and appropriately for the autumn conditions. It can get a bit chilly towards the end of the season but a jacket or cardigan will keep you warm!

7. This year’s Handa Opera will include one of the most famous arias in opera, ‘Nessun Dorma’, against one of the most beautiful backdrops in the world. Chinese director Chen Shi-Zheng’s production of Handa Turandot will draw on Hollywood film tradition, theatrical acrobats and Chinese opera.

8. There are six catering locations built especially on site for the shows. These range from cheap and cheerful to fine dining, to suit all budgets and styles. The fine dining offerings are in the Platinum Lounge – a spectacular pop up restaurant built into the tree tops. Bookings are essential.

9. This is one of the most photogenic events you’re likely to attend in Sydney and if you’re on Instagram or Twitter you might like to get into the spirit with selfies and postings by using the hashtag #OperaHarbour

What to look out for

Instead of rushing from a city restaurant to the performance, which starts at 7.30pm, head over to the Royal Botanical Gardens and dine on-site and enjoy the spectacular views as the sun sets over Sydney Harbour.

How to get there

By far the most glamorous way to reach the opera is by water taxi: a shuttle service operates from Circular Quay East wharf, Circular Quay West wharf, the wharf near the Park Hyatt Sydney, and Man O’ War Jetty near Sydney Opera House. The closest train station is Circular Quay. A flat fee applies and bookings essential.

For more details