Whilst having a glass of wine with one of my dear friends recently in Bondi FM, my friend and I came across a booklet describing a glittering production to arrive on Australian shores, La Traviata. Only this event has a twist, no, it wasn’t confined the walls of the Sydney Opera House, it was be staged outside at the stunning Mrs Macquarie’s Point!
As preparations begin for the stage extravaganza, Sydneysiders today had a sight to behold, as a giant 9m x 9m glittering chandelier made of Swarovski Elements crystals, floats across Sydney Harbour today by barge and onto the purpose-built 25-metre stage at the Royal Botanic Gardens, for HANDA Opera on Sydney Harbour – La Traviata, which has been open since Saturday 24 March for an exclusive three-week season.
Rehearsals move to the site this weekend, and will be underway on the purpose-built 25-metre stage and the 9 metre chandelier ahead of Opening Night. Starring in this production are sopranos Emma Matthews and Rachelle Durkin who will alternate in the role of Violetta, international tenors Gianluca Terranova and Ji-Min Park who alternate in the role of Alfredo as well as opera favourites, Jonathan Summers and Warwick Fyfe.
Internationally-acclaimed director Francesca Zambello has been appointed Stage Director of this production. Her career has spanned theatre, music theatre, film and opera and has ranged from Aladdin at Disneyland and The Little Mermaid on Broadway, to War and Peace for Paris Opera and Carmen for Opera Australia. She is a multi-award winner with three Olivier Awards, two Evening Standard Awards, two French Grand Prix des Critiques, and a Helpmann.
Audiences will watch HANDA Opera on Sydney Harbour – La Traviata from a luxurious 3,000 seat grandstand erected in the Royal Botanic Gardens, on the water’s edge. The seating grandstand will have large and expansive hospitality areas at either end. The northern end being three-tiered with catering outlets on each level; the southern end two tiered with the top deck nestling beneath a canopy of trees.
Australia’s most accomplished and daring Set Designer Brian Thomson is busy supervising constructing of the set. His previous projects include Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Opera Australia’s 2011 hit La Boheme, the Sydney Olympic and Melbourne Commonwealth Games ceremonies and New Year’s Eve events. Under his watchful eye, the pylons on which the set rests, have been sunk into the harbour bed and the massive stage structure has been built atop this, by ESS Australia.
Thomson’s minimal but striking stage design will be dominated by the giant chandelier measuring 9-metres x 9-metres, that will sparkle with 10,000 Swarovski Elements crystals symbolizing the world of Verdi’s much-loved opera with its glittering Parisian salons. This giant crystal-adorned La Traviata Chandelier was made in Melbourne with finishing touches done in a warehouse on the water’s edge in Sydney, and floated by barge under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, past the Sydney Opera House, and onto the site at the Royal Botanic Gardens!
lt weighs 3.5tonnes and measures 9metres in height and 9metres in width. The La Traviata Chandelier made with Swarovski Elements took 720 man hours to manufacture and 240 man hours to assemble. Along with the beautiful 10,000 Swarovski Elements crystals the La Traviata Chandelier contains 1,025 crystal shapes, 23,104 facets, 24 moving lights and 3,000 LED lights.
The chandelier will be suspended from a 26-metre crane, blackened out so that it is invisible against the night sky. At the end of La Traviata’s Act I, Violetta, after singing the famous aria Sempre Libera, will ascend with the chandelier in a capsule as fireworks explode all around.
Tess Schofield has designed the 1950’s inspired costumes, including Mardi-Gras themed outfits for the masked ball in Act II, which will see guests arriving by motorboat. The set design is complemented by a sophisticated lighting design by John Rayment which will create the atmosphere of changing scenes through colour, dazzling light displays and fireworks. The choreographer for this unique production, will be esteemed Melbourne choreographer Stephen Baynes.
The site has been designed by Ross Wallace to include five distinct dining experiences, with catering at each level delivered by fresh CATERING. Options range from individual hampers (including a glass of sparking wine) through to fine dining in The Platinum Lounge.
The Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra will be conducted by Opera Australia favourite, Brian Castles-Onion from a water-tight sound studio built beneath the stage.
Lyndon Terracini, Artistic Director of Opera Australia said in a recent interview “Everyone loves to look at the outside of the Sydney Opera House, so why not have that as the backdrop of a wonderful production? It is one of the most beautiful views in the world.”
Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour – La Traviata is Opera Australia’s most ambitious project to date. The NSW Government through Destination NSW is a foundation partner in this spectacular new global event for Sydney.
Book at ticketmaster.com.au or call 1300 723 038
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