When the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Harbour are your backdrop, you really do have to fight for the attention of your audience. Unless of course, you’re Opera Australia. The annual Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour is back and this year they’re bringing the dramatic, Egyptian-themed AIDA to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair.
First performed in Cairo back in 1871, AIDA tells the dramatic story of an Ethiopian Princess in Egypt. We don’t want to spoil it for you but there’s a love triangle, a war, heartache and plenty of over the top, glitzy gold ball gowns we secretly wish we had an excuse to flounce around in – note to self, take up Opera singing.
Aside from the stunning pre-made backdrop (aka the Opera House), the giant 18 metre high head of Queen Nefertiti is also something prepared earlier. It towers over the set and was lowered in place by cranes. Like we said, there’s plenty of drama to set the scene. And that includes the pre-performance food.
Fresh Catering is behind the five different options on site – they’ve taken the theme and run with it. Tagines, hummus, sumac, slow roasted lamb, backlava, Turskish delight – the flavours of North Africa and the Middle East are on show, on and off the stage.
From the harissa relish to the pickles, the team are making as much as they can in house. They’re going through tonnes of hummus and the tagine is a best seller.
If you’re on an extra special date night, book into the Platinum Club restaurant. The dining room and bar sits above all the action in its own pocket of peace and quiet. The pop-up a la carte dining room has the same show stopping views as the rest of the venue but is also blessed with a three course North African-inspired feast. Think dip mezze, 12 hour slow cooked lamb and a caramelised fig pavlova that’s moreish to the very last mouthful. This year you can go a little less formal with the Platinum Club bar menu – a decadent buffet of dips, dolmades, flaky pumpkin and haloumi pies, quinoa and pomegranate salads and a giant bowl of baklava that is just demanding to be dipped into.
Stop by the pop up Sparkling and Oyster Bars for a pre-theatre drink or grab a tray of small bites and share plates from the Northern and Southern terraces. Then it’s lights down for the show!
Aida Opera on Sydney Harbour
Friday 27 March – Sunday 26 April
Fleet Steps, Mrs Macquaries Point, Domain