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Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House
Bennelong Point, Sydney


Sung in Italian with English surtitles.

Running time

Approximately 3 hours, including one interval.

Jonas Kaufmann – “The world’s greatest tenor” (AFR) – returns to Australia.

Luscious melodies transport us to Venice, where carnevale is in full swing. A furtive spy – Barnaba – eyes a young singer among the revellers. He steps out of the shadows, taking a chance on an amorous advance.

When the singer rejects him, Barnaba’s vengeful acts set in motion a chain of twists and treachery that threaten to pull all asunder. Must La Gioconda risk everything to save Enzo – the man she adores?

Composer Amilcare Ponchielli took one of Victor Hugo’s plays as inspiration for this grand opera all’Italiana. His Act III ballet ‘La danza delle ore’ found enduring popularity in Disney’s Fantasia.

Famously sung by Maria Callas, the title role takes on a newly empowered dimension through the vocal fireworks of Saioa Hernández – a soprano hailed as “the diva of our century” by none other than Montserrat Caballé.

Jonas Kaufmann makes a welcome return to Australia after his “gilded voice” (The New Yorker) shone in Lohengrin (2022) at Arts Centre Melbourne. Making his role debut as the ardent Enzo, “the world’s greatest tenor” (AFR) performs in these two exceptional concerts as part of the Sydney Opera House’s 50th birthday celebrations.

Hernández and Kaufmann are joined by Agnieszka Rehlis as Enzo’s lover Laura, Vitalij Kowaljow as her husband Alvise Badoera, and Ludovic Tézier as the state spy Barnaba in this all too rarely performed masterpiece.

Pinchas Steinberg conducts.

Cast & Creative

La Gioconda
Laura Badoero
Alvise Badoero
Enzo Grimaldo
La Cieca
Monk/Singer/2nd Voice
A Pilot
1st Voice

Opera Australia Chorus
Opera Australia Orchestra

Jonas Kaufmann

Cheat Sheet: La Gioconda

Everything you need to know about Ponchielli's grand opera of infidelity and self-sacrifice.

What happens in the story? What should I expect from the music? What is the big hit?

Read the cheat sheet
Singers of La Gioconda in Concert, Sydney Opera House

Meet the artists: Jonas Kaufmann and Ludovic Tézier*

Exclusive to ticket holders, the two superstar singers will be signing merchandise after the performance on Saturday 12 August.

*Terms and conditions apply

The music


Act 1: The Lion’s Mouth

Venice in the 17th century, the courtyard of the Doge’s Palace

Outside the Doge’s Palace, citizens are celebrating Carnival with its regatta and gondola races. Among them is Barnaba, a spy for the Inquisition. A street singer known as La Gioconda crosses the square with La Cieca, her blind mother. Barnaba attempts to force his attentions on her, but Gioconda rejects him. Leaving her mother, in the courtyard, she sets off to find her lover, a sea captain by the name of Enzo.

Determined to have his revenge, Barnaba denounces La Cieca as a witch, accusing her of using her powers to influence the outcome of the races. Hearing the commotion, Gioconda returns with Enzo who struggles to restrain the mob from attacking the old woman.

Alvise Badoero, a leading member of the Venetian Inquisition, now arrives on the scene with Laura, his wife. As her husband quells the riot, Laura places La Cieca under her personal protection. As a mark of gratitude, the old woman presents Laura with her cherished rosary (“Voce di donna o di angelo”). Meanwhile, Barnaba has observed Laura and Enzo engaged in a furtive conversation. Recalling how Laura was once engaged to a now-banished Genoese nobleman by the name of Enzo Grimaldo, he puts two and two together.

Barnaba confronts Enzo, who confesses that he intends to take Laura away so they can begin a new life. Barnaba, who sees a chance to drive a wedge between the sea captain and the besotted Gioconda, offers to row Laura out to Enzo’s ship that night.

Enzo leaves and Barnaba puts his plan into action. Finding a scribe, he dictates a letter for Alvise in which he reveals Enzo’s real identity and Laura’s infidelity (“O monumento”). Finally, he drops the letter into the Lion’s Mouth, the place people deposit secret information for the Inquisition. What Barnaba doesn’t know is that he has been overheard by Gioconda who is horrified to learn of Enzo’s duplicity.

Act 2: The Rosary

The deck of Enzo’s ship anchored in the lagoon

Barnaba has rowed out to Enzo’s ship disguised as a fisherman where he entertains the crew by singing a barcarolle (“Pescator, affonda l’esca”). After he has left, Enzo arrives. As he waits for Laura to join him, he gazes into the night and reflects on the beauty of sky and sea (“Cielo e mar”). Barnaba returns in his boat with Laura and the lovers are reunited. She is nervous, however, and suspicious of Barnaba. After reassuring her, Enzo goes below deck to prepare for the ship’s departure. Laura prays to the Virgin to protect them (“Stella del marinar”).

Gioconda has followed, hoping to take her revenge on Laura. Appearing on deck, she confronts her enemy (“L’amo come il fulgor”). Brandishing a dagger, Gioconda is just about to strike when she catches sight of her mother’s precious rosary hanging around her rival’s neck. Realising that it must have been Laura who saved La Cieca, Gioconda decides to rescue her instead. Warning her that Alvise and his men will arrive at any moment, she bundles Laura into a boat and helps make good her escape.

Enzo returns to find Laura gone. Gioconda explains that it must have been Barnaba who betrayed them to the authorities and urges him to come back with her to the city. Alvise’s men approach, firing canons. Rejecting Gioconda, Enzo reaffirms his love for Laura. Rather than let it fall into the hands of his enemy, he orders his men to set fire to their own vessel before diving headfirst into the lagoon.

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*Access will be granted on a first come, first served basis and the session will be limited to one hour. Only one signature per person will be allowed and strictly no selfies and photos with the artists.