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Opera Australia’s Wakil Ballot makes more than six-hundred $20 tickets available to low-income and culture-curious individuals who might not have had the resources to experience it before – as determined by an online ballot.
We met and photographed some of the successful ‘first-timers’ ahead of the March 15 performance of Opera Australia’s La bohème, and checked back in to see what they thought of the experience.
Puccini’s 1895 opera (which inspired the musical Rent) is a great start for opera noobs: there are plenty of earworms (including the famous double-dose back-to-back arias 'Che gelida manina' and 'Mi chiamano Mimi'), and lashings of of romance, sex, tragedy and comedy.
Opera Australia’s eminently accessible, attractive production was created by powerhouse combo director Gale Edwards and designer Brian Thomson (Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour: Carmen) – and has been a popular favourite and a perennial feature of the Opera Australia program ever since its 2011 debut. Set in Weimar Germany, the show titillates with topless club girls, red-curtained cabarets, bedazzling frocks, and the best kind of boho threads.
Below, our first-timers share their thoughts. Their hot tips for your first opera? Forget the subtitles – they’re hard to read and not necessary if you’ve got a basic understanding of the plot; having great seats is a key part of the experience; and bring a warm scarf, as it gets cold in the theatre.