* Limited Visibility
What is opera to you? The rush of adrenalin as a soprano or tenor’s voice soars, the hum of the chorus, the larger-than-life costumes and scenery, the moving stories, or just the whole sense of occasion?
Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour is all this and more.
Come down to the water’s edge and let the story begin.
We’re in Japan. A young American acquires a bride to keep him company during his stay. It’s clearly a financial transaction rather than a love match but on their wedding night the stars come out, their eyes meet and magic happens.
We dare you to hear Cio-Cio-San and Pinkerton’s exquisite love duet and remain unmoved, especially when it takes place against the backdrop of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
The stars will be there, for real. Magic too?
Silken arias and fragile butterfly wings float on the water
There’s a moment in March where several hundred people collectively hold their breath on the harbourfront.
It’s when two enormous cranes lift a 40-tonne stage from 10 barges onto 16 pylons buried deep in the ocean floor.
“The highest risk is in that moment,” explains Louisa Robertson, whose job title could well be “chief-problem solver” for Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour.
Now in her third year as executive producer for the annual event, Robertson has encountered nearly every obstacle imaginable when it comes to mounting an opera on Sydney’s most spectacular – and unpredictable – stage. These range from the trivial – “Trees are always a challenge. They grow, and suddenly your design doesn’t fit!” – to the seemingly insurmountable.
“Each new design offers its own challenges. We had one crane in 2012, then for Carmen in 2013 the designer wanted two. We had to reinforce everything.”
More than 700 people turn their hands to the project before a single note is heard over the Botanic Gardens.
It takes 8,000 hours of manual labour to build the stage and the elaborate underworld of the orchestra pit and dressing rooms beneath the stage. Making the costumes takes another 10,000 hours. The inventory of batteries, light globes, nuts, bolts and screws adds up to mindboggling numbers.
It is a truly gargantuan effort, Robertson says. “There are a lot of firsts on site from a technological and design perspective.” They range from the spectacular – fireworks and chandeliers – to the mundane: “The toilets won an Event award for Best Innovation!”
Create a night to remember
The harbour-front site will be transformed into an exquisite Japanese garden hosting a superb range of Japanese-inspired dining options and bars. Taking inspiration from Madama Butterfly, award-winning Fresh Catering will be offering a wide range of Japanese inspired food and beverages, catering to all tastes from simple and delicious tapas style dishes, to the elegant banquet. The venue is open from 5pm each evening. Find more information about dining options here.
Pre-Performance Dinner at the exclusive Platinum Club $250
Guests seeking the ultimate pre-opera luxury dining and hospitality experience will be treated to a superb 3 course Japanese influenced dinner, paired with premium drinks, in the magnificent Platinum Club. Breathtaking views of Sydney Harbour, the iconic Sydney Opera House and the opera stage form stunning backdrop.
Interval drinks and canapes in the exclusive Platinum Club $50
Enjoy drinks and canapés overlooking the spectactular Sydney Harbour in the exclusive Platinum Club at interval. Interval is 30 minutes.
Support us by becoming a Harbourmaster with a tax deductible donation of $500. As a Harbourmaster, you will play a vital role in the realisation of this enormous cultural project. Make your donation when you book your tickets.
Please note that the performances on Tuesday 1 April and Thursday 3 April will be filmed for DVD and cinema release.
|Assistant Director||Susana Gómez|
|Set Designer||Alfons Flores|
|Costume Designer||Lluc Castells|
|Lighting Designer||Alexander Koppelmann|
Running time: approx two hours and forty minutes with one interval of thirty-five minutes
Performed in Italian with English surtitles.
Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour 2014 - Madama Butterfly
Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour - an opera venue like no other
B.F. Pinkerton arrives in Japan and inspects a house overlooking harbour that he is leasing from the marriage broker, Goro. The house comes with three servants and a geisha wife named Cio-Cio-San, known as Madama Butterfly. The American consul Sharpless arrives. Pinkerton describes his life of roaming the world in search of experience and pleasure. He intends to go through with the marriage ceremony even though he says that someday he will take a real, American wife. Butterfly views the marriage differently. She is heard climbing the hill with her friends for the ceremony. After the formal introduction Butterfly explains that her family was once prominent but lost its position, and she has had to earn her living as a geisha. Her relatives arrive. Cio-Cio-San shows Pinkerton her few possessions, and tells him she will embrace her husband’s religion. The Imperial Commissioner reads the marriage agreement, and the relatives congratulate the couple. Suddenly, a threatening voice is heard – it is the Bonze, Butterfly’s uncle, a priest. He curses the girl for converting to Christianity. Pinkerton orders them to leave and as they go the Bonze and the shocked relatives reject Cio-Cio-San. She is helped by Suzuki into her wedding kimono, and joins Pinkerton in the garden.
Act II – Part 1
Several years have passed, and Cio-Cio-San awaits her husband’s return. Suzuki prays to the gods for help, but Butterfly berates her, telling her that Pinkerton has promised to return one day. Sharpless appears with a letter from Pinkerton. Goro arrives with the latest potential husband for Butterfly, the wealthy Prince Yamadori. Butterfly politely serves the guests tea but insists she is not available for marriage. She dismisses Goro and Yamadori. Sharpless attempts to read Pinkerton’s letter and suggests that perhaps Butterfly should reconsider Yamadori’s offer. Butterfly shows the consul her small child. Sharpless is too upset to tell her more of the letter’s contents. He leaves, promising to tell Pinkerton of the child. A cannon shot is heard in the harbour announcing the arrival of Pinkerton’s ship. Overjoyed, Butterfly joins Suzuki in strewing the house with flower petals. Night falls, and Butterfly, Suzuki, and the child settle into a vigil awaiting Pinkerton’s arrival.
Act II – Part 2
Dawn breaks, and Suzuki insists that Butterfly get some sleep. Butterfly carries the child into another room. Sharpless appears with Pinkerton and Kate, Pinkerton’s new wife. Suzuki realises who the American woman is. Pinkerton is overcome with guilt and leaves rather than face Cio-Cio-San. Cio-Cio-San rushes in hoping to find Pinkerton, but sees Kate instead. Grasping the situation, she agrees to give up the child but insists Pinkerton return for him. Dismissing everyone, Butterfly takes out the dagger with which her father committed suicide, choosing to die with honour rather than live in shame. She is interrupted momentarily when the child comes in. After an impassioned farewell, she blindfolds the child then stabs herself as Pinkerton calls her name.
Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour is located at Fleet Steps, Mrs Macquaries Point, Sydney.
From the Art Gallery of NSW, proceed north along Art Gallery Road and Mrs Macquaries Road.
Big picture map - includes surrounding area, closest parking and public transport.
On site map - includes a guide to entry points and on site dining.
Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour is located at Fleet Steps, Mrs Macquaries Point, Sydney (click to view map of the area).
Please remember that access to the venue via The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney is only possible prior to 6.30pm in March and 6pm in April when the gates are shut.
If you are planning on travelling by car, please be advised that Art Gallery Road, leading into the venue, is likely to experience traffic congestion on nights of the performance. There will be limited metered parking and drop off/pick up availability, so we highly recommend arranging an alternative drop off/meeting point, or using public transport.
The Domain Car Park is the closest undercover car park available. For patrons arriving at the Domain Car Park from 4.30pm, there is a flat rate charged and closing hours will be extended until 1am during the performance season. Please note parking is subject to availability. Click here for more info.
If you use the parking meters along Mrs Macquaries Road, the M Park system is in place. M Park (Mobile Parking) is a system on the meters that allows you to pay via your mobile phone and credit card. There are instructions on the machine about how to use this service. When your meter is about to run out you are sent an SMS warning. You can then top up the meter using your mobile without going back to your car.
By Public Transport
The nearest train stations are Martin Place, St James and Circular Quay, which are all in walking distance of the venue.
The City Sightseeing Bus also includes the Royal Botanic Gardens on its route, the last bus leaves from Circular Quay at 6pm, and the 200 Bus (Chatswood to Bondi) stops in Macquarie Street.
All schedules, time and dates can be viewed at the NSW Transport website at 131500.com.au.
By Water Taxi
The Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool wharf in Woolloomooloo Bay will be available for arrivals and departures to and from the event site for Aussie Water Taxis. This is located within a three minute walk from the event.
Aussie Water Taxis services will run regularly from 4.30pm until 7.30pm picking up from Man Of War Jetty (next to Opera House) and Milsons Point.
It will recommence at 10.15pm until 11pm departing from The Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool wharf and dropping off at Man Of War Jetty and Milsons Point.
Aussie Water Taxi fare is $10 per person, each way. Tickets can be purchased on the boat or from an Aussie Water Taxi staff member at the wharf.
Shuttle to car park
A Shuttle Bus will be available for guests who park in the Domain Car Park. Pre performance shuttle starts at 4:30pm until 7:30pm which will loop from the car park to the venue entrance on Mrs Macquaries Road.
Post performance shuttle service starts from 10:15 until midnight which will stop at both the Art Gallery and Domain car
park. It is only a short walk from The Art Gallery of NSW to St James train station and the Sydney CBD.
Please note: You cannot depart the venue through the Royal Botanic Gardens as all gates close at 6:30pm in March and 6:00pm in April. The quickest route back to the city is via Mrs Maquaries Road. Click here to view the Gardens' opening hours.
Travelling interstate or internationally
Whether you're travelling from Tokyo or Tasmania, you can fly Qantas to Sydney to see Madama Butterfy. Qantas, a valued supporter of Opera Australia, offer an extensive choices of domestic and international flights to get you to Sydney for Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour. Qantas has flights on major routes every hour - sometimes more - and connections from regional centres all over Australia. To book now visit Qantas.com.
In 2014 it is our pleasure to present a new production of Madama Butterfly. We have assembled some information to help guide you through you night and make this a spectacular experience truly unforgettable.
Venue open: 5:00pm
Show Starts: 7:30pm
What to wear
There are no rules about what to wear at an opera performance. It is always great fun to frock-up for the occasion and
make a glamorous night of it, but dressing up is not mandatory.
Remember this is an outdoor event so most importantly you should dress for all weather conditions.
Onsite Box Office
Tickets can be collected for that night’s performance from 4.30pm at the box office located and clearly signposted
near the entrance to the venue. You can purchase tickets to Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour at the venue Box Office (subject
to availability). Payment will be accepted by Visa, Diners, American Express, Mastercard, EFTPOS or Cash only. For ticket
collection, valid identification (e.g. a driver’s licence or passport) will be required.
There are no cloak room facilities available, so anything you bring will need to be stored under your seat.
We recommend that you do not bring large or bulky items or items of significant value.
Please also note that there is strictly no BYO food or alcohol. However, there are a range of food and beverage options available at the venue from 5pm.
Seating and late arrivals
Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour is a reserved seating venue. There is no undercover seating.
To ensure the enjoyment of all audience members, we will be unable to seat latecomers until a suitable break in the performance.
Merchandise and Programs
Want a memento to remember your night by? Exclusive programs and merchandise will be available for purchase at the venue.
Our Programs are a beautiful souvenir, designed to increase your understanding and enjoyment of the performance. They contain
detailed background information about the production,
the cast and creative team, commissioned essays, interesting facts, photographs and more.
Payment options on site
Payment will be accepted by Visa, Diners, American Express, Mastercard, EFTPOS or cash.
There will be no ATM facilities available at Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour.
People of all ages are welcome to attend, however all patrons must hold a valid ticket to enter the venue. Babes in arms will not be permitted.
Non Smoking Venue
Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour is largely a non smoking venue, however limited designated areas will be provided where smoking is permitted.
Full Terms and Conditions
Please read our full Terms and Conditions before purchasing your tickets or food and beverage packages.
Madama Butterfly is sung in Italian and will be performed with subtitles projected onto screens along the sides of the stage. Don’t worry if you can’t follow every word as the action will convey a great deal of the story. If you wear glasses make sure you bring them along.
There will be one 35 minute interval which will allow you to freshen up. Return to your seats when you hear the bells ringing.
Fresh Catering have created a number of different food and beverage areas where you can soak in the amazing views as the sun sets on one of Sydney’s most glorious vistas.
Opera audiences are famous for their passionate involvement in the performance. It's a tradition for the audience to show enjoyment and appreciation by stomping their feet at the end of the performance - feel free to join in if you like. All applause will be gratefully received, although it is polite to wait until the singing and music has stopped.
After the show
Performances will finish around 10.15pm.
Adina Garden Bar will be open after the performance so you can finish your evening with a nightcap and avoid the taxi queues.
Join the conversation
Seating for disabled or less mobile patrons
Customers requiring wheelchair positions and/or assistance should contact the Ticketing Services Office on Sydney +61 2 9318 8200, Monday – Friday 9am to 5pm.
The harbour-front site will be transformed into an exquisite Japanese venue open from 5pm each day. Our official caterer, the award-winning Fresh Catering, have taken inspiration from Madama Butterfly to create a number of extraordinary dining experiences, and will be offering a superb range of Japanese-inspired food and beverages.
With the exception of the Platinum Club, no booking is required for these venues. Guests may explore the site at leisure and select from the range of dining experiences that have been developed to suit different palates and budgets.
Fresh Catering has created a downloadable menu help you plan your visit. Explore the complete menu here (pdf).
Dining experiences in the exclusive Platinum Club
Add one of our gourmet food and beverage experiences to your ticket. The Platinum Club is an exclusive, bespoke reservation-only dining area, boasting breathtaking views of Sydney Harbour, and a backdrop of the iconic Sydney Opera House and the opera stage.
Platinum Club Pre-Performance Dinner $250 pp
Guests seeking the ultimate pre-opera luxury dining and hospitality experience will be treated to a superb 3 course Japanese influenced dinner, paired with premium drinks, in the magnificent Platinum Club.
- Tea Braised Chicken and Soybean Salad, Saffron Emulsion (GF/DF)
- Miso Marinated Beef Fillet on Bok Choy and Enoki Mushrooms (GF/DF)
- or, Roasted Blue Eye Cod, Watercress and Silken Tofu (GF/DF)
- Bread rolls and butter
Dessert and Cheese
- Decadent Chocolate and Ginger Mousse with Praline Feuilletine (V/GF)
- or, Selection of Cheese, Seaweed Lavosh & Cumquats (V/GF)
Espresso coffee and selection of teas
Vegetarian option - by request only
Fried Bean Curd, Wild Mushroom and Green Tea Noodle Salad (V/GF/DF)
Ma Po Eggplant on Daikon Radish Salad with Spinach & Sesame Dressing (V/GF/DF)
V: Vegetarian, GF: Gluten Free, DF: Dairy Free
Platinum Club Interval Drinks $50 pp
Enjoy an open bar in the exclusive Platinum Club at interval, serving a selection of fine wines, beer and canapés overlooking the spectactular Sydney Harbour. Interval is 35 minutes. Please remember to present your Platinum Club Interval ticket to gain interval entry.
Bookings for Platinum Club
Bookings are essential and must be made two business days in advance of your ticket show date. To enqiure about dining options and to book, call (02) 9318 8300.
Other dining options to explore on site
A number of delightful outdoor dining venues are offered on site, featuring extraordinary food and beverage experiences created by Fresh Catering.
No booking is required for these venues; you can explore the harbour-front site at your leisure. Open from 5pm each day, the venues include:
Adina Garden Bar
Our classic Japanese noodle bar will be located at the Adina Garden Bar, a relaxed setting where you can enjoy watching the sun go down over the water.
- Japanese Noodle Stir fry
- Fried Chicken and Coleslaw Bun
- Macaron Box
Northern Terrace and Southern Terrace
The Northern Terrace and Southern Terrace will offer options for all tastes and budgets. Items will include a wide range of Japanese inspired meals, and an innovative range of sweet and savoury desserts.
- Chicken Katsu Burger, Soy Bean and Avocado Burger
- Teriyaki Chicken Pizza, Wild Asian Mushroom Pizza, Miso Prawn Pizza
- Salmon Teriyaki Salad
- Crispy White Cut Chicken Chop Salad
- Fried Tofu and Soy Bean Salad
- Fried Chicken & Coleslaw Bun
- Sushi Rolls
- Macaron Box
- Cherry Blossom Parfait
- Chocolate and Walnut Brownie
- Cheese with Candied Fruits
- Pineapple, Lychee and Melon
The Northern Cantina will have two outlets, one offering a range of different tasting plates and main courses, salads and desserts.
- Salted Edamame
- Crispy Panko Rice Balls
- Chicken Yakitori
- Popcorn Shrimp, Spicy Garlic Sauce
- Pork and Ginger Gyoza
- Teriyaki Sticky Beef Ribs
- Bbq Miso Barramundi on Braised Mushrooms Noodles
- Japanese Beef Curry, Jasmine Rice
- Ma Po Eggplant with Spinach and Sesame Dressing
Salmon Teriyaki Salad
Crispy White Cut Chicken Chop Salad
Fried Tofu and Soy Bean Salad
Cherry Blossom Parfait
Chocolate and Walnut Brownie
Cheese with Candied Fruits
Pineapple, Lychee and Melon
Sparkling Wine and Oyster Bars
Our satellite Sparkling Wine and Oyster Bars offering premium beverages and other sweet and savoury delicacies.
- Salted Edamame
- Tamari Soy Almonds
- Fried Chicken and Coleslaw Bun
- Pambula Lake Oysters, Citrus Ponzu
- Green Tea Ice Cream, Mango Ice Cream
Take a look at the on-site map in the 'Location maps and Seating Plan' section to find out where these venues are, and how amazing the view will be!
Only food and beverages purchased at the venue will be permitted – sorry, no BYO. And of course, you must be over 18 to purchase or consume alcohol at the site. Menus are subject to change without notice.
Opera Australia is committed to the rights of all people to experience our events. As such, we have implemented specific access measures for Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour - Madama Butterfly to welcome guests with disability. Guests with disability including those with mobility support needs are encouraged to book their seats though our dedicated phone line on (02) 9318 8300 or email@example.com
The Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour site will have a dedicated access lift as well as accessible amenities for access guests attending the show. Site maps indicating these facilities as well as access drop-off/pick up points, and a seating plan showing accessible seating, are available in the Location section of this webpage.
For detailed information regarding transport to the event, please see the Getting There section of this webpage.
For any other disability access information please contact the Opera Australia Box Office on (02) 9318 8200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour is an open-air event. The venue and the stage are completely uncovered. The special nature of this event will be appreciated by visitors from all over the world who understand that there is a certain risk of bad weather. Opera Australia is therefore committed to going ahead with a performance of Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour even in doubtful weather conditions.
Visitors are advised that it may rain during the performance. The performance will proceed if there are light, intermittent showers. We recommend that guests bring warm and rainproof clothing. Please note that although umbrellas can be brought to the site, out of consideration for other members of the audience they cannot be used during the performance.
In the case of extreme weather, Madama Butterfly may be delayed by up to 50 minutes at any point throughout the performance.
The performance will only be cancelled if the weather poses a threat to the safety of performers or the audience. Cancellation will occur in the event of heavy rain and/or strong winds as Opera Australia acknowledges that the comfort and safety of the audience and its performers are paramount.
If a performance is cancelled or plays for less than 50% of the total performance running time the ticket holder shall have the ticket price refunded in full or can exchange the ticket for a subsequent performance. Customers should contact the organisation from whom they purchased their tickets (i.e. Opera Australia or Ticketmaster) to organise an exchange or refund the next business day.
For more information, please view our Terms and Conditions.