Whenever something is labelled “the future” of a particular art form, it’s probably best taken with a grain of salt. Anybody who thinks they can predict exactly how the winds will blow through a form – especially one as fickle and rigid as opera – is usually mistaken. It would seem Opera Australia’s artistic director Lyndon Terracini has got an idea about what the future of grand opera might involve: slick, digital sets made up of high definition LED panels. Opera Australia’s new production of Aida uses ten massive, stage-filling screens that slide in and out of place and spin, creating a captivating cinematic experience that fuses live performance and video. Debuting the company’s first digital production was a significant gamble; Opera Australia certainly isn’t the first opera company in the world to use projections, but there’s a big investment behind the technology and already two more productions commissioned that will use it. If the opening night response is anything to go by, it’s a gamble that will pay off in the coming years. Italian director Davide Livermore is clearly of the opinion that “more is more” and has created a production that undoubtedly succeeds. There are endless sparkles, gold gilding on just about every surface, huge headdresses and some of the loudest singing (and I mean literally, in decibels) I’ve ever heard in the Joan Sutherland Theatre. He absolutely leans into the melodrama of the piece with all his staging and choreography. (Although there’
Join some of Sydney’s best known cabaret artists for a series of intimate performances at Ensemble Theatre. Pop-up cabaret at Ensemble Theatre is a month-long series featuring the likes of Todd McKenney, Queenie van de Zandt and Mitchell Butel. Kicking off the cabaret evenings is Queenie van de Zandt with her award-winning production of Blue – The Songs of Joni Mitchell. Over the course of the evening the chartreuse (who has an extensive history working in musical theatre in shows like Cabaret, Les Miséserables and The Boy From Oz) and her live band will take the audience through the songs of the madam of melancholy, Joni Mitchell. The series continues with four-time Helpmann Award winner Mitchell Butel, whose show, Croon Tunes, explores his childhood growing up in Maroubra. Discover how Butel found his voice and learned to sing in a suburb defined by footy and surf culture. Expect to hear lots of songs by Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Harry Connick Jr as well as funny anecdotes from Butel’s youth. Todd McKenney rounds out the cabaret series with The Casting Couch With Todd McKenney. The veteran showbiz performer is hosting four relaxed shows featuring show tunes, stories and a special guest. Joining McKenney on the couch will be theatre legend Nancye Hayes, Australian singer and actor David Campbell, celebrated cabaret performer Carlotta and even McKenney’s own mum Peta McKenney. Pop-up cabaret at Ensemble Theatre is on from August 19 to September 23. Ti
Simon Phillips’ pastel-hued production of Rossini’s lesser-known comic opera was a hit when it premiered in 2014, and now it’s back to bring a blast of sunshine to the impossibly cold days. With a distinctly Australian libretto (yes, the term “root rat” appears) and a deliciously retro set and costumes by Gabriela Tylesova, the story centres on the capricious young woman Fiorilla, who is dazzled by the arrival of a mysterious foreign visitor to her sleepy seaside town - much to the dismay of her husband and her lover. Rising soprano Stacey Alleaume, recently seen in OA’s The Merry Widow, plays Fiorilla, with Italian bass-baritone Paolo Bordogna as the Turk.
While he’s made a name for himself worldwide as a king among the jazz cats, Lonnie Liston Smith has never graced Australia’s shores: until now. Red Bull Music will present the US artist as he performs alongside his troupe, the New Cosmic Echoes, at the Overseas Passenger Terminal. They'll be sharing their uplifting repertoire that draws on Smith's 40 years in the industry. Across his immense career, Smith has worked beside genre-defining artists like Miles Davis, Pharaoh Sanders and Roland Kirk. His melodies have also featured across contemporary hip-hop, with his samples and collaborations appearing in more than 230 tracks. Artists like Jay-Z and Nas have incorporated Smith's ‘A Garden of Peace’ into their modern productions.
Sydney’s live music scene has a little extra pep thanks to Kittyhawk’s decision to start hosting jazz and swing every week. Every Thursday and Saturday you’ll be able to see some of Australia’s best bands and vocalists on stage – past performers include Kate Wadey, the Corridors, the Finer Cuts, the Cope Street Parade and Adam Pringle. The Liberation Day-themed bar’s old-world vibe is a pitch-perfect backdrop for jazz and, as a bonus, they mix some seriously good cocktails here. Best of all, it’s completely free, so all you need to do is turn up, snag a seat as close to the stage as you can, and order a rum and rye Old Fashioned as you wait for the sweet tunes to begin.
A marathon music festival is taking over City Recital Hall next month. Extended Play will bring a big line-up of new music to City Recital Hall for 12 hours of continuous music featuring artists from every genre imaginable – and then some. From noon on Saturday August 25 until midnight, City Recital Hall will be buzzing with 20 local and international artists, transforming the venue into an immersive experience in sonic exploration. Headlining the explorative festival are the Bang on a Can All-Stars, who are flying in from New York to share their dynamic brand of classical-jazz-experimental-world-rock with Sydneysiders. We’re also keen to hear the closing act, a 90-minute DJ set from the Stereogamous duo (that’s Paul Mac and Jonny Seymour). Can’t get enough of the soul-restoring sounds of Philip Glass? Extended Play will feature songs from the composer, known for his countless compositions and film scores (he even won a Golden Globe for The Truman Show). There will also be works by established Australian writers like Elena Kats-Chernin and Peter Sculthorpe, plus the chance to hear songs from our top new talents. Everything from classical and jazz to rock and world music will feature at Extended Play, with the uniting factor being that everything you hear is cutting edge, innovative and nothing like what you hear on the average radio channel. There’s nothing fuddy or duddy about the festival so prepare to leave your preconceived notions of music etiquette at the door and
After a successful inaugural event last year, Eat Your Heart Out Liverpool will return for another street celebration of music, art and food showcasing the rejuvenated city centre. This year, Railway Street will be coloured with public art, carnival games, and stalls of designer and handmade goods presented by the Westies Markets. Local businesses along the strip will become part of the festivities, beside more of Liverpool’s favourite eateries in food truck form, and a curated music and performance program of local and international acts. Australian dance crew Shaun Parker and Company will step up to the mainstage for multiple performances, where they’ll show of a routine inspired by Western Sydney. Their bold bouts of choreography will be interspersed with sets by artists including Manutabu, who’ll get the good times rolling with funk and R’n’b, followed by the groove-rock melodies of Gang of Brothers and an amalgamation of jazz, reggae, hip hop and afro-funk sounds from nine-piece ensemble the Strides. The Museum of Contemporary Art will also be hosting an evening of art, music and performance for young adults at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre from 5-8pm For the food-focused market browsers, there’ll be fried chicken from the Dirty Bird stall and the Berlin Bangers’ mobile will top their mighty wursts with your favourite combo of mustard and crisp fried onions. Move onto Thai, Lebanese, Vietnamese, Filipino and Fijian flavours for a menu as diverse as the Western
Want more gigs? Head to one of these venues
From major concerts to tiny basement gigs, here's our pick of Sydney's best live music venues.