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Posts Tagged ‘Belvoir Street Theatre’

I bloody love this city!  The setting on the harbour, with the Opera House and Harbour Bridge as features and the downtown skyline as a backdrop, are unrivaled. It’s the most cosmopolitan of places and its people have taken the Aussie casual, positivie trademarks and given them an off-the-wall, cool spin. I could live here – well, if there was (even) more culture.

I landed on my feet with a B&B in the somewhat Bohemian Glebe, a short bus ride from the centre. In addition to a comfy suite and great breakfasts, they provided advice and an Opal card (Aussie Oyster), collected and returned me to the airport and did my laundry! Joining my host for one of his regular ‘old boy’ coffee stops with a local artist and designer made me feel at home. I also lucked out on the weather as the storms earlier in the week disappeared and the sun came out; just a late PM thunderstorm and a drizzly morning to briefly interfere with lovely autumn days.

As soon as I arrived in the city centre on my first morning, I was compelled to take the Manly ferry across the harbour and the short walk from here to the ocean. This whetted my apetite for more ferry journeys so before I was through I’d travelled as far up the Parametta river as I could and hopped over to Watsons Bay for lunch and onward by land to Bondi Beach and the coastal walk to Bronte in an attempt to walk it off. An early visit to the Fish market even had me sampling lobster, scallop and oyster mid-morning. Add in good advice on Glebe dining and Sydney was a great gastronomic stop.

The one rainy morning was a good excuse to spend it in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, a hugely impressive collection with brilliantly curated Asian galleries which juxtaposed the ancient and modern ‘in conversation’, and outstanding Australian art. I even stayed for a lovely lunch to ride out the weather. The Museum of Contemporary Art is a great building, with a striking new extension since I was last here, but needs more art to fill it. It featured a special show on artists who use light and in another of those senior moments, I paid for and entered it before I realised it was the one I saw at the Hayward last year! Still, it was good enough to see again. I walked a lot along the harbourside and through downtown, the trip to the top of the tower provided city views and I even got a personal tour of the NSW parliament.

Sydney was also the trip highlight for theatre and opera. It started at the Belvoir Theatre in Surrey Hills for Elektra / Orestes, a superb modern setting of the story of how the latter returned to kill his mother and her lover in revenge for them killing his dad, goaded on by his big sister. In a theatrical coup, the two halves were mirrors of each other in different rooms. The rain risked the open air Aida on a floating stage in the harbour, but in the end it was clear and dry. Productions like this often put spectacle above music, but this one was briliantly sung, enhanced by the framing of the opera house and harbour bridge stage right and the downtown skyline stage left. Radames triumphant return from war on a real camel (followed by three others) was greeted by a firework display in a stunning end to Act I. The final show was Beckett’s Endgame, which I’ve never understood and still don’t, but it was a particularly funny production with the great Hugo Weaving in the lead role, directed by Sydney Theatre Company’s AD at their home theatre.

Sydney gets under your skin and into your bloodstream, even in just four days. Sad to leave it, and this country, but I feel privileged to have had 2nd and 3rd visits to Melbourne and Sydney respectively and new experiences in Tasmania and the Top End. A stopover in Singapore and Chiang Mai beckons. More from there…..

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