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Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour – West Side Story: Review

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by Jenny Hatton Mahon (subscribe)
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Contemporary opera for a new generation
Originally performed on Broadway in 1957, the musical West Side Story by Bernstein, Sondheim and Laurents, remains as relevant to our world today as it was when written.

West Side Story was written as a contemporary operatic adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, the romance of the main characters made impossible as a result of conflict between two culturally diverse groups. The 1957 production was reworked as a musical (as opposed to opera) to tell the story of two rival teenage gangs in New York City and their struggle for control of their neighbourhood. This struggle was played out on the streets and fuelled fighting and war between the gangs. It is first and foremost a love story but the themes of immigration and racism are simmering beneath the surface.

west side story, handa opera Australia
West Side Story - At the dance
Having found fame on Broadway and subsequently as an Academy Award-winning film, we now have the opportunity to enjoy West Side Story in a unique production performed by Opera Australia on the iconic stage set up on Sydney Harbour. Although opera buffs may feel the story should remain firmly in the "musical" genre, I expect more will congratulate Opera Australia for bringing contemporary opera to Sydney and attracting a younger crowd to support opera into the future.

The production is amazing, featuring a talented cast, vibrant set, fireworks, spine-tingling music and song, energetic choreography and a story that will remind you of the fragility of our world, the futility of fighting and the power of love.

west side story, handa opera Australia
West Side Story - Before the "war council"
The venue for the production is stunning, with the backdrop to the stage featuring the twinkling city lights, the imposing Sydney Harbour Bridge and illuminated Opera House. You can take your own picnic or eat at one of the many pop-up food stores at the venue and enjoy the sunset before the production begins.

Limited tickets remain available for the season which runs until 21 April 2019.

Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour - West Side Story
Tickets available from the Sydney Opera House website.

Sydney Harbour - beautiful backdrop to the West Side Story Harbourside set
Sydney Harbour - beautiful backdrop to the West Side Story Harbourside set
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Why? Because opera isn't meant to be stuffy
When: See ticketing for show times
Where: Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour
Cost: Tickets from $99.00
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