As the smoke clears from the New Years Eve fireworks, Sydney embraces the best she has to offer as the Sydney Festival returns to present a huge and diverse program of free and ticketed events spanning contemporary and classical music, theatre, dance, visual arts and more.
The 2014 festival programme comprises of 104 events, a staggering 21 of which are free. With 372 performances across 33 indoor and outdoor venues, Sydney Festival 2014 features 722 artists from 80 companies across 17 countries. With 10 world premieres, 4 Australian premieres and 13 Australian exclusives, summer in our beautiful city is absolutely not to be missed.
Against a backdrop of some of the world’s greatest theatre and dance, new Australian works of magnitude and cultural importance dominate this year’s theatre program. The world premiere of Black Diggers (directed by Wesley Enoch and written by Tom Wright) unfolding the untold stories of 1000 Indigenous soldiers who fought in World War One and Michael Kantor and Tom E. Lewis’ indigenous re-working of King Lear in The Shadow King.
Acclaimed choreographer Shaun Parker returns to Sydney Festival with the world premiere of Am I, in an arresting music and dance collaboration created with composer Nick Wales whilst Halina Reijn performs the lead role in the retelling of the 1927 penned monologue by celebrated poet and film director Jean Cocteau in the intensely voyeuristic La Voix Humaine.
Henry Purcell’s great romantic tragedy Dido & Aeneas gets an underwater makeover in Sasha Waltz’s wondrous reimagining of this great opera, featuring stunning choreography, a prologue performed in a giant fishtank underwater, and celebrated baroque orchestra Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin.
Favourite hubs of Sydney Festival are back and even bigger than before, with Hyde Park’s Festival Garden tripling in size to become the Festival Village, featuring a variety of great circus and cabaret shows, activities and music for everyone from kids to grandparents.
Open day-into-night with free entry, Festival Village is the place to be, plus you can enjoy the soon-to-be Festival favourite Sacrilege, a life-size bouncy castle version of Stonehenge.
Irresistible cabaret, naughty circus treats and awe-inspiring acrobatic offerings ensure there’s plenty of festival action. The highly-acclaimed dirty and dangerous cabaret circus act LIMBO headlines the Spiegeltent whilst the whiskey-soaked mix of gypsy music and acrobats in Scotch and Soda charm late night audiences in the Circus Ronaldo Tent.
The infamous Amanda Palmer will explode onto the Spiegeltent stage for ten nights of music and mayhem whilst NYC darling Lady Rizo will tantalise, tease and leave you wanting more with her big lungs and sultry stage presence.
In the CBD, Paradiso at Town Hall is back as another central Festival hub following a stellar debut in 2013, turning Sydney’s Town Hall into a rock venue for eight great nights of eclectic music programming. There’s also free entry to the popular Terrace Bar in the early evening and free late night programming to keep Sydneysiders out into the wee hours of the morning.
In The Domain, two fantastic free events are set to delight, kicking off with Chicago’s R’n’B, soul and disco diva Chaka Khan on the opening weekend, and Sydney Symphony Orchestra performing Gustav Holst’s astronomical suite The Planets, conducted by Simone Young, to wrap up the Festival and Australia Day on Sunday 26 January.
In Parramatta, the favourite free event Parramatta Opening Party is back with free music and all sorts of festival fun whilst Kaldor Public Arts Project’s Project 28: Roman Ondak will take over Parramatta Town Hall with a trio of performative works.
Riverside house show Band of Magicians is set to astound and delight with its dazzling deceptions, and everyone’s favourite yellow friend Rubber Duck will nest in Parra’s own duckfeeding HQ.
“If you are really into your arts, Sydney Festival will not disappoint, with opera, dance, theatre and music acts from across Australia and the world.” says Festival Director, Lieven Bertels.
“After work our Festival Village becomes the perfect meeting place to grab some food and a drink before you catch one of our shows in Hyde Park including our headlining house show LIMBO and a great line-up of international music acts in surprisingly intimate Spiegeltent concerts.”
For more information, visit: www.sydneyfestival.org.au for details.
Image: LIMBO – photo by David Solm