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Opera Australia

Opera Australia are losing their Sydney Opera House home for half of 2017 – but there are still plenty of chances to see great opera in an iconic setting.

Photograph: Anna Kucera
Artistic director Lyndon Terracini and performers

Opera Australia have launched their 2017 season – and the big news is that the company will be losing its Opera House home (because of renovations) for about seven months. 

So if you have your heart set on seeing an opera in an icon, then book tickets for something in Opera Australia’s summer season – because in winter they will be presenting pared back ‘concert performances’ of works (i.e. not sets or props, and basic costuming), and straight-up recitals (no costumes, sets or props), in various venues around Sydney (including Sydney Town Hall, and the City Recital Hall at Angel Place).

In fact the only full production that Opera Australia are putting on in the second half of 2017 is their tried-and-tested production of Madama Butterfly, which will transfer to the Capitol Theatre from October 24.

In terms of hot tickets for 2017, we’re excited that two of Time Out Sydney’s 5-star favourites from 2013 are returning for an encore: Gale Edwards’ spectacular harbourside production of Carmen (part of the Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour series, aka HOSH) is taking up prime harbourside position from March 24; and Sydney’s favourite Shakespearean actor/director, John Bell, is bringing his high-drama production of Tosca back to the Opera House from February 17.

We’re also looking forward to checking out the best opera London has to offer: director Damiano Michieletto's Olivier Award-winning production of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci, for which he intertwines the two operas rather than the traditional back-to-back double bill presentation.

For opera-philes, three other productions are must-sees. Firstly, young Danish director Kasper Holten’s acclaimed 2015 production of Karol Szymanowski’s 20th century opera King Roger(created in collaboration with the Royal Opera House and Dallas Opera).

For Wagner nuts, there are just three concert performances of Wagner’s Parsifal, starring legit superstar tenor Jonas Kaufmann – which will sell out, based on ticket sales (and reviews) for his recital at Sydney Opera House in 2014.

And finally: young Australian soprano (and rising star, having made her debut at Royal Opera, Covent Garden in 2015) Nicole Car singing the lead in Massenet’s 19th century rom-com Thaïs, opposite Québecois baritone Étienne Dupuis.

Single tickets for the Opera Australia 2017 shows go on sale October 12 – except for Carmen: Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, which is on sale now. Until then, you can purchase tickets as part of a subscription.

Below we outline the season – and offer highlights to suit every kind of taste/experience.

Not sure whether opera is for you? Nervous about your big night out? Read our story on opera first-timers, with comments and tips from Sydneysiders taking their first plunge.