Nine years ago Opera Australia embarked on an ambitious project: to present an annual outdoor opera performed on a grand harbourside stage. The idea was to bring plenty of spectacle to one of the most beautiful places in the country without sacrificing any artistic or musical integrity. Incredibly, it worked, and Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour is now an essential event on the Sydney arts calendar.
For 2020, Opera Australia is returning to its roots and revisiting its original (and some would argue best) production: Francesca Zambello's La Traviata. This was the production that made HOSH a success, thanks in large part to Brian Thomson's set design, which featured a giant picture frame as the stage and a massive, nine-metre Swarovski-encrusted chandelier hanging from a crane.
La Traviata is one of the most beautiful operas ever written and features a bunch of tunes you probably already know, including the rambunctious 'Brindisi' (aka the Drinking Song) and 'Sempre Libera', a coloratura soprano aria that soars into ridiculously high territory, maybe best known in Australia for this fabulous moment in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. In this production, Violetta sings it while literally swinging from a chandelier. Eat your heart out, Sia.
The lead role – a high class courtesan who falls madly in love but is struck by tragedy – will be shared by Australian soprano Stacey Alleaume and Italian Jessica Nuccio.
La Traviata will be back on the floating stage at Mrs Macquarie's Chair from March 27 to April 26 2020, with tickets on sale from July 16.
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