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Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House
Bennelong Point, Sydney


Performed in English with surtitles.

Running Time

Approximately 3 hours and 5 minutes, including one interval.

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How strange their ends, and yet how glorious!

The Messiah might be Handel’s most famous work, but the composer himself held Theodora in higher esteem.

Judge for yourself which oratorio deserves the title of Handel’s greatest masterpiece when Pinchgut Opera and Opera Australia join forces to present Theodora in concert.

A series of sublime arias and powerful choruses, Theodora is a heavenly musical experience. Set in ancient Rome, it follows the plight of a courageous woman and bold young soldier who risk everything in the face of a tyrannical power.

This milestone collaboration with Pinchgut Opera is the first time the acclaimed Baroque specialists have performed in the Joan Sutherland Theatre.

It’s a wonderful chance to see the Orchestra of the Antipodes in their element, performing on period instruments, with Pinchgut’s charismatic director Erin Helyard leading from the harpsichord, and Cantillation as the chorus. Pinchgut has assembled a cast of early music specialists, including countertenor Christopher Lowrey who reprises his acclaimed performance of Didymus which he first sang in Pinchgut’s fully staged production of Theodora in December 2016.

The music

Cast & Creative

Realised by
Lighting Designer

Orchestra of the Antipodes

Theodora in Concert at the Sydney Opera House

Getting to know: Theodora

Find out more about Handel’s masterpiece — the oratorio the composer considered his greatest work.

Find out more
Overture Dining at the Sydney Opera House

Enjoy dinner before the opera

Overture Dining at Sydney Opera House

Allow us to make your dinner reservation for you: at Overture Dining in the Northern Foyer of the Joan Sutherland Theatre. You’ll be served a three-course menu for just $97.

See the menu


Act 1

Valens, the Roman governor, proclaims that in celebration of the Emperor birthday all citizens must make sacrifice to Jove and join in a feast to the Emperor’s honour. Those who refuse to participate will be punished or executed. He charges Septimius with carrying out his orders. Didymus, a Roman soldier, asks that those whose conscience forbids them from participating be protected from punishment.

But Valens is unbending and questions the soldier’s loyalty to Rome. Didymus turns now to Septimius with the same argument. Septimius suspects that Didymus is secretly a Christian, and admits that he too would prefer to show mercy to those who refuse to celebrate. However, he is a loyal Roman and will carry out his orders.

In the Christian community, Theodora and Irene are praying. A messenger arrives and warns them of Valens’s commands. But Irene leads the community in a reaffirmation of their faith. Septimius arrives and warns them of the punishment they face – a punishment Theodora is happy to embrace. However, rather than have her executed Septimius takes her away to a brothel where she will be prostituted to the Roman soldiers.

Didymus arrives too late to save her, and sets out to release her. The chorus pray to heaven for his success.

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