Sydney is back centre stage for showbusiness with two big openings in a week.
Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour opened La Traviata on Friday, while the much-anticipated Hamilton swung open the doors at the Lyric Theatre on Saturday.
Watching La Traviata within site of the sails of the famous Opera House was always going to be a surreal experience. And on a night when the stars shone – in the sky, on the stage and in the audience – it was both picture and pitch perfect.
On the amazing stage standing above the harbour waters, a 3.5-tonne chandelier of 10,000 crystals and scores of lights illuminate an engineering marvel. There is an orchestra on one floor, and up to 70 whirling and dancing performers on another. There is even a party boat – and let’s not forget Sydney’s obligatory fireworks show.
This show has the lot. It’s an opera, a musical, a heartrending story all rolled into one joyous bonanza of colour and song.
Stacey Alleaum, who we interviewed at Explore just before her performance, is mesmerising as Violetta, the poor mistreated party girl. And Rame Lahaj plays perfectly the star-crossed lover, while Michael Honeyman is masterful as the interfering father who brings tragedy to them both.
You’ll need a box of tissues for the ending.
Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour is a treasure. It turns Mrs Macquarie’s point into an operatic hub, complete with bars and restaurants.
Among a star-studded audience on opening night were former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Ita Buttrose of the ABC, Ross Packer, ACCC chair Rod Sims and Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.
We had dinner at the Platinum Club, which serves a two course meal for $180 and three courses for $225. We enjoyed Cowra lamb and corn-fed chicken – there was sweet potato and chard rotolo with zucchini blossoms for those who don’t take meat.
You couldn’t get a table with a finer view than this – the sun setting over the Harbour Bridge and Opera House while we sipped and dined until it was time for the performance. You can pre-purchase interval drinks for $30 pp.
With Sydney hotels at bargain prices, we can heartily recommend a night at the opera and a weekend in the city. Especially since you can use your Dine and Discover vouchers.
La Traviata runs until April 26.