A writer sharing travels, experiences, a love of festivals & events. Life is a journey and I hope to inspire others. Visit my blog at https://www.travelwithirenke.blogspot.com
Opera Australia's successful Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour series is back in 2019 with a new spectacular production and a newly-designed floating stage. You may have seen or heard of some of the previous productions – La Boheme, Carmen and Aida – these classic operas were all a big deal.
The floating stage as it was in 2015 for the production of Aida; Image source - Hamilton Lund
Now for the first time, a shift from opera to a beloved musical is being presented with West Side Story coming to life on the water. Wild and bright, electrifying dance and wistful romance, the modern day Romeo and Juliet tale of Maria and Tony tells their story of two star-crossed lovers from rival gangs of 1950's New York.
With Maria's family a part of the Sharks (a group of unwanted Puerto Rican migrants) and Tony being from the Jets (tough white American dudes), the scene is set for a rumble when tension builds up over gang territory in this pop-up venue under the starlit night sky.
Exploring toxic masculinity, it is quick to action from the very beginning with a challenge put forward by one of the gang leaders to fight for dominance at an evening dance (where Maria and Tony meet) in Act 1. The fighting degenerates to death and retaliation. Act 2 sees Maria's friend Anita involved, resulting in further deterioration with lies spread and the body count rising with Tony's eventual demise.
Despite the dark moments, there is a lot of bright moments and the colour and vibrancy of youth shine through in the scenes and the design of the stage. The latter sees graffitied subway cars, the torch of the Statue of Liberty (a symbol of justice and immigration) and soaring highway overpasses, all a significant part of New York.
A render design of the stage for West Side Story; Image source - www.opera.org.au
The star-crossed lovers are home-grown stars Alexander Lewis and Julie Lea Goodwin, with an all singing and dancing supporting cast that take on Leonard Bernstein's legendary score, Jerome Robbins' thrilling choreography, Arthur Laurents' powerful book and Stephen Sondheim's memorable lyrics in well-known songs, such as, Tonight and America.
The landmark musical ringing out into the balmy night air features fireworks every night with fabulous views of the harbour from Mrs Macquaries Point. The venue has comfortable grandstand seating, a live orchestra hidden beneath the dramatic stage and state-of-the-art sound design allowing you to hear every note.
Raise a glass as the sun sets and drink in the surroundings as you enjoy a meal pre-show in one of the five bars and restaurants on site. It will be a night to remember.
Shows run for two and a half hours (incl. one interval) and screen 7.30pm Tuesday-Sunday nights with tickets starting at $99 per adult and $50 per child (suitable for ages 12 & over). Price depends on the day of the week and seating preference.
Note, shows contain strong language and adult themes.