If you make it to Australia, there are some things you will want to do. What’s on your bucket list? Surfing in Byron Bay? Camping under the stars in the outback? Trying the famous Melbourne coffee? Seeing quokkas, wombats and kangaroos in the wilderness?
That’s cool – all those things were on my list, too. But if visiting Sydney Opera House is not in your top three, then what are you even doing reading this post? 😉
PART 70 OF “AM I EVER GONNA SEE YOUR FACE AGAIN?” A RANDOM COLLECTION OF UNKNOWINGLY OBVIOUS FACTS ABOUT AUSTRALIAN MUSIC SCENE
Sydney Opera House is iconic for many reasons: the history itself, the building’s shape and location or the artists that have graced its stages over the years. And in case you’re wondering, it doesn’t only host opera performances. Contemporary musicians of VERY different genres (not only from Down Under) have played there in abundance as well.
In the global music community, it’s considered a huge honour and achievement to perform at the Opera House. That’s precisely why the show and experience program is rich and yummy. Seeing any event is worth your while because it’s awesome to even be under the sails. (Yep, been there, done that).
Entering Australia might be a bit problematic for the foreseeable future. Thankfully, the Sydney Opera House team know it, too. So they’ve made a really smart move of opening up their vast digital show catalogue to the public. That’s what Stream is, a great opportunity to see some established as well as rising stars in an exclusive selection of livestreamed performances. And it’s not only music but all performing arts from the Opera’s programming. So theatre and dance, for instance, are also included.
I found out about the service only last week and I still can’t get enough of it! There is sooooo much good stuff to watch. The best part about it is that it’s mostly free of charge (with some exceptions – you can rent some videos for a small fee). The only thing you have to do is register. How good is that?!
There are different themes and experiences available on the platform. My fave one for the moment is the “Live at Barrabuwari – A Sunset Gathering of Music” series from the forecourt. The selection of the artists includes the best of the up-and-coming generation. Musicians like Barkaa, Kobie Dee, Becca Hatch, JK-47 or Milan Ring have appeared on the outdoor stage so far. The killer backdrop setting with views onto the Harbour Bridge additionally makes for really memorable gigs.
I was particularly blown away by Ziggy Ramo‘s powerful show a taste of which you can view below:
Another recent performance that caught my eye is Jack River‘s “Visions of Us”. She invited other artists and activists to create an event blending music, poetry and talks on issues like climate change or the Black Lives Matter movement. And if there’s one person that stands out from all those invitees for me, it’s a young Aboriginal singer, Budjerah. Check him out!
When it comes to video footage from previous years, there’s a great little movie with a selection of 10 songs chosen by Sydney Opera House’s Head of Contemporary Music, Ben Marshall. He put together a (video) playlist called “Music at The House”. It combines not only different music genres but generations of artists from around the world that have played at the Opera. Amongst them, you’ll hear The Cure, Janelle Monáe or Skepta but also the home-grown talent, Camp Cope and Flume. Again, it’s worth watching just to see what the Opera building looks like from the inside.
“From Our House To Yours” are performances and talks from the legendary Joan Sutherland Theatre stage. That segment was created last year in March, just at the beginning of the pandemic, to provide some sort of support through quality entertainment to everyone grounded at home. You’ll find comedy and dance in that section as well.
Gordi was one of the musicians who recorded a full-blown concert in the empty theatre presenting her then newly-released album “Our Two Skins”. Watch one of the songs from the set here:
Fancy something different from just live music? Something you could do with your kids maybe? No worries. Sydney Opera House has you covered for family entertainment, too.
How about rapper Briggs reading his children’s book “Our Home Our Heartbeat“? Or learning some contemporary hip hop moves with Muggera Dance Party? Or the opera staff explaining what they do to the little ones in the “Who’s In The Lift” series? (By the way, I LOL-ed myself hard when one of the kids said “Wow, that was really loud” after hearing an opera singer for the first time).
There’s also the international angle. And you might be quite surprised by some fun facts. Did you know, for instance, that Rita Ora recorded her performance for “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” at the Opera House in March 2021? Apparently, she wanted it to be filmed specifically there, and she briefly spoke to the radio host Linda Marigliano about it. The short interview is also up on the platform.
And in case you missed Rita Ora’s evening music performance on the American NBC network, watch it here:
Let’s not forget the Opera House’s original purpose, though. It’s home to classical music, above anything else. And many of the concerts have been recorded for our viewing pleasure. You can enjoy a selection of piano, cello or violin performances of pieces by Brahms or Bach. But if you’re into newer compositions by contemporary artists, you won’t be disappointed, either.
But it’s not all straight-up operas or ballets. After all, Sydney Opera House is known for pretty forward-thinking ideas.
For instance, Max Richter staged his 8-hour-long lullaby in the Northern Foyer of the Joan Sutherland Theatre as part of Vivid LIVE in 2016. And yes, you guessed it right – the lucky audience got to spend the night with the artist in their own individual beds under the sails listening to the music. It was definitely a gig with a view and a good night’s sleep for many, I bet.
Or take “The Gauntlet” – a performance and an experiment at the same time that took place in 2018. Classical music fans were introduced to the choir in a completely different way, walking amongst its members and experiencing a variety of singing styles, pitches and interactions. If you’re interested in more details about the event, there’s a whole 25-minute documentary on the “Stream” platform. But I also got a teaser for you below:
There are currently almost 50 clips on the platform, which means a good few days spent browsing through all the content. (I still haven’t finished.) And that number will grow every month, as promised by the programming team. I’m definitely going to come back next month to see what else they have in store.
So if your visit to Sydney and the Opera House needs to be postponed now for obvious reasons, take advantage of its rich digital offering. After all, as Financial Review put it, “Sydney Opera House [entered] the Netflix era with >Stream<“. And it’s here to stay for sure.
Cover image: Sydney Opera House website
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