It may be the final month of summer but that doesn't Sydney runs out of steam. In fact, the second month of the year is as steamy as ever with saucy Valentine's Day events, spicy markets and feasts for Chinese New Year and movies under the stars at Tropfest and popular outdoor cinemas like Moonlight Cinema and St George OpenAir Cinema.
February's biggest events
St Jerome's Laneway Festival has managed to go from just that – a festival in the backstreets of Melbourne for friends – to an internationally renowned tastemaker in a matter of year. 2017 will be no different, when the festival returns to the Sydney College of the Arts for a day of grassy fun, with a line-up of Australian favourites and international acts, including Tame Impala, who'll be playing at the festival exclusively.
Roosters, rats, pigs and snakes will light up the skies in late January for the 21st Chinese New Year Festival in Sydney. It’ll be the Year of the Rooster, and the City of Sydney is putting on more than 80 events around town from a spectacular lantern exhibition to Dragon Boat races and hawker-style food markets. From the festival’s modest beginnings in 1995 as a community street market, Sydney Chinese New Year Festival has grown to become one of the largest celebrations of the Lunar New Year outside of Asia, led by festival curator Claudia Chan Shaw.
The first weekend in February is when Allianz Stadium will host the Sydney leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series – a travelling men's and women's tournament that pitches the mighty frames of the teams from Argentina, England, Kenya, Samoa, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Scotland, Wales Brazil, France, Japan, Portugal, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Canada, Russia and South Korea against each other for the top spot.
If you died your hair purple, wore a white belt with black skinny jeans and fell in love for the first time sometime between 2001 and 2008, then chances are you've got powerful emotional associations with Austin based post-rock outfit Explosions in the Sky. The band, who also penned the soundtrack for Friday Night Lights (the movie, though many of the songs also made it onto the show), will be playing sit-down venues like the Sydney Opera House and Melbourne Recital Centre.
What's on stage?
Powerhouse combo director Gale Edwards and designer Brian Thomson (HOSH's Carmen) created this production for Opera Australia's 2011 season – and it has proved a popular hit. Some love La bohème, some loathe it – but there's no doubt that there's plenty of those Puccini earworms (including the famous double-dose back-to-back arias 'Che gelida manina' and 'Mi chiamano Mimi'), and plenty of romance, sex, tragedy and comedy. To that mix, Edwards and Thomson add the sizzle of Weimar Germany (cue topless club girls, red-curtained cabarets, bedazzling frocks, and the best kind of boho threads). This is an eminently accessible, attractive production that will satisfy die-hard romantics, Puccini fans and opera noobs alike. Single tickets for La bohème are available from October 12. Until then, you can purchase tickets as part of a subscription. See what else is in the Opera Australia 2017 season.
Kate Mulvany's adaptation of Craig Silvey's best-selling book is coming back to Belvoir for summer 2017 – with a slightly adjusted cast. Read our 4-star review below: Australia’s history of racism is remarkably underrepresented in our popular culture. There’s a moment in Belvoir’s staging of Craig Silvey's bestselling 2009 novel Jasper Jones where our 14-year-old protagonist Charlie Bucktin talks about an incident at a community meeting in his small hometown of Corrigan during the summer of ’65: Charlie: At a meeting at the Miners Hall last night, Mrs Findlay, the publican’s wife, screamed at Jeffrey’s mum. Told her to go back to where she came from. Then she pulled out a big chunk of Mrs Lu’s hair. Apparently one of Mrs Findlay’s sons got drafted. Everyone rushed to her after it happened...but no-one helped Mrs Lu. At this point in the show (at the matinee in question) there was a sharp collective intake of breath from the audience. It reminds you that as much as we know this strand of racist history exists – or at the very least, we figure it must have – we don’t hear about it often. With the exception of a handful of widely seen films (The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Rabbit Proof Fence and Romper Stomper come to mind) and best-selling books (Looking for Alibrandi; The Secret River), we have nothing like the popular record of racism that America and Britain, for example, have. And what does exist is more commonly about the relationship between Aboriginal and white Aust
In our 5-star review of John Bell's Tosca (from its premiere season in 2013) we wrote: "Bell has created a striking production, transposing the action to Nazi-occupied Rome during World War 2, with three magnificent sets that take us from a church to an internment camp. There are some stunning set-pieces; the chorus that closes the first act is a particular highlight, with the men and women of Rome, soldiers and clergy converging in the vestibule of the church in time with Puccini’s striding rhythm, in an exhilarating visual and aural crescendo. This is just excellent stuff, with the kind of compacted, concentrated energy that one expects from the best Shakespeare. If it doesn’t make you fall in love with opera, probably nothing will." From our interview with Sydney's favourite Shakespearen actor and director, John Bell, ahead of his first production for Opera Australia: Composed by Puccini after his wildly popular La bohème, Tosca is a titan in the opera canon now, but it was famously divisive when it premiered in 1900, and in the years following. Even in the ’50s, musicologist Joseph Kernan famously called it a “shabby little shocker.” Director John Bell recounts this anecdote incredulously: “I thought, ‘How can you say that?’ I suppose when it’s done in its original period – with period costumes and all that – it can come across as melodramatic. People associate that kind of costuming and that era with melodrama – and [Tosca] could swing that way.” With this in mi
Pairing Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci in a double-bill of small-town Italian tragedy has become an opera tradition. And as Opera Australia artistic director Lyndon Terracini says, "The most famous and the best tenors in history always want to sing both these roles in one evening - it’s a tour de force." This co-production by three European opera houses, which debuted at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in December 2015, does something different: instead of running the two operas back to back, director Damiano Michieletto opts to interweave them – with results that scored him the 2016 Olivier Award for Best New Opera Production. Powerhouse Mexican tenor Diego Torre will star, alongside Dragana Radakovich (who sung the lead role in Turandot in 2016). Single tickets for Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci are available from October 12. Until then, you can purchase tickets as part of a subscription. See what else is in the Opera Australia 2017 season.
As we stand contemplating Zhang Dali’s hanging installation of human ‘carcasses’ in the foyer of White Rabbit Gallery, a young couple enters the building and one of them exclaims “What the f*ck is that!?” – laughing, slightly incredulous. And the sight IS incredible: 30 figures trussed and hanging from the four-storey high ceiling as if they were in a butcher’s shop. Zhang, a former graffiti artist based in Beijing, paid 30 immigrant workers $50 (the equivalent of a week’s wages) to be covered in plaster (with only breathing tubes sticking out) to make ‘Chinese Offspring’ (2005), which seeks to draw attention to plight of hundreds of thousands of rural migrants who flock to China’s cities each year seeking work. These migrant workers not only face social prejudice, they are prevented by the hukou (household registration) system from accessing public services, and are at the mercy of a fickle job market and often unregulated work conditions. Vile Bodies is themed around the idea that the “fantastic beasts” of Chinese mythology have been replaced by very real “monsters” created by the country’s scientific, social, political and environmental experiments. Across 4 levels and 30 works, 22 Chinese artists conjure dystopian futures and biological experiments, subvert conventions of beauty, depict actual vile bodies (a praying mantis with two penis tips collaged onto its eyes is a highlight, by which we mean a low-light), and explore the ways in which we construct groups of peop
In 2017, Lights on Later moves from Thursday to Wednesday night, as part of the city-wide 'Culture Night' initiative. It's the same deal, however: extended hours, and (from Wed Jan 11) a program of live music on the terrace, discussions, performances, talks and workshops, to complement the exhibitions. The indoor-outdoor MCA Cafe, on the Sculpture Terrace, also stays open until 9pm. See our hitlist of art exhibitions in January, and make sure you tick off the full list of essential summer culture experiences in our Summer Culture Guide.
More than 100 masterworks from the Tate collection are descending on Sydney this summer, courtesy of Sydney International Art Series. Curated by Emma Chambers (Tate) and Justin Paton (AGNSW), Nude: Art from the Tate Collection spans two centuries, and various attitudes towards the nude form – from heroic, romantic and erotic representations, through domestic and quotidian, modernist and abstract, surreal and realist, and through to the dawn of identity politics, and contemporary feminist visions of the female body. The line-up includes works by JMW Turner, Sir Hamo Thornycroft, Auguste Rodin, Pierre Bonnard, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Louise Bourgeois, David Hockney, Barkley Hendricks, Rineke Dijkstra, John Currin, Sarah Lucas and Ron Mueck. While the line-up is predictably male-heavy, given the history of art (there are just 19 female artists out of 70 total), there is some much-needed feminist and queer perspective given in the final stretch of the exhibition, with work by Cindy Sherman, Linder, Tracey Emin and the Guerrilla Girls. Rodin's 1904 erotic sculpture 'The Kiss' is justifiably being billed as the star of the show: not only has it never been exhibited outside Europe before, the Art Gallery of NSW dramatic (breath-taking!) installation of the piece is, as Emma Chambers has said, the best presentation of this work that she’s seen.
This group show will explore artists whose practice revolves around colour, featuring newly commissioned and recent work by Sydney Ball, Rebecca Baumann, Ry David Bradley, Lara Merrett, Elizabeth Newman, Jonny Niesche, Huseyin Sami, Nike Savvas, Gemma Smith, Brendan van Hek, Julian Day, Spence Messih and Shelley Lasica. Some artists will create work within the space (for example, Rebecca Baumann will paint each wall of the gallery a different colour), while others will perform works that 'activate' and transform the gallery space at points during the exhibition's duration (such as Huseyin Sami, who will undertake one of his 'painting performances').