On Thursday 24 March 2016, Opera Australia held the opening night of Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour’s Turandot at the Fleet Steps at Mrs Macquarie Point.
Turandot is opera in three acts written in the 1920s by Giacomo Puccini, completed by Franco Alfano after his death, and set to a libretto in Italian by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni. It is a Persian tale which is set in China and is about a brave suitor that risks his life to win the love of Princess Turandot.
The scenery was spectacular, with the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney opera house in the background. The performance space is situated at the water’s edge in a pop-up opera house with purpose-built bars, restaurants and a grandstand under the stars.
For the fifth year, Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour makes the aria the “firework moment” and it’s lead tenor, Riccardo Massi, provided the Luciano Pavarotti vocals to match for the aria Nessun Dorma. There is also a magnificent, massive, fire-breathing dragon, which comes to life at a dramatically poignant moment, and a pagoda tower from which Princess Turandot rules over China.
Chinese director Chen Shi-Zheng does his best to adapt the production to a less stereotypical Westernised view of China. Italian tenor Riccardo Massi plays the smitten suitor Prince Calaf with enormous vocal passion. Serbian soprano Dragana Radakovic is an outstanding ice cold princess Turandot. However, it is Korean Australia soprano Hyeseoung Kwon who is the crowd favourite as the lovelorn servant.
The who’s who of Sydney attended this black tie event including: actress April Pengilly; Channel 7 presenter Anne Sanders; fashion designer Peter Morrissey; TV presenter Fiona Falkiner; media personality Deborah Hutton; theatre and cabaret talent Paul Capsis; actor Tim Draxi; journalism queen Ita Buttrose; TV presenter Sophie Falkiner; actor Craig McLachlan; editor and journalist Melissa Hoyer; Channel 9 news presenter Deborah Knight; artistic director of Sydney Dance company Rafael Bonachela; Home & Away actress Emily Symons; TV presenter Heather Maltman; actor, singer and writer Peter Phelps; Master Chef winners Adam Liaw and Julie Goodwin; Home & Away actors Nic Westaway and Kyle Pryor; actor Ian Stenlake; fashion designer Carla Zampatti; and the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy Turnbull (who arrived just after me and I had a security guard tell me from behind to move aside for a little while so he could pass).
Turandot is at Mrs Macquaries Point until April 24. For more information, go to: