Carmen Sizzles on Cockatoo Island

Opera Australia’s production of the much-loved Carmen on Cockatoo Island.

You can’t get a much more picturesque setting than a production of Opera Australia’s Carmen on Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour, complete with fireworks and motorbike stunts.

The spirited, toe-taping, much loved Bizet music and Opera Australia’s talented singers and dancers add up to a very special night of musical entertainment in an outstanding place.

Even those who aren’t dedicated opera buffs will recognise some of those popular arias and sultry Spanish tunes. Many would have heard the catchy tunes accompanying repeated television advertisements.

Remember, the flirty Habanera and famous Toreador songs- perfect for humming along to.

The story of Carmen is a lively, gritty, edgy production with so much going on stage at times, it’s hard to know where to look first.

At times, the cast compete with a noisy flock of cockatoos taking a look below and aircraft overhead, but that’s part of the deal with open-air performances.

It is performed in French with English subtitles on two screens.

The first opera to be performed on Cockatoo Island, director Liesel Badorrek has set it in the island’s raw industrial environment with a giant stage with a wreckers yard, trashed cars and a distinct rock ‘n’ roll vibe.

I loved it and the weather gods were kind to us.

Carmen star Sian Sharp, shares the role with Carmen Topciu.


The cast for the night included Australian mezzo-soprano Sian Sharp wearing tight black leather pants and corset and a seductive look – it was a pleasure to listen to her.

Tenor Diego Torre was great as Don José, and bass-baritone Alexander Sefton gave Escamillo- the dashing bullfighter, a distinct Elvis rock star edge.

Bass-baritone Alexander Sefton gave Escamillo- a distinct Elvis rock star edge.

Opera Australia CEO Fiona Allan says she is thrilled with the launch of the Company’s latest initiative to broaden the appeal of opera to new audiences.

“Opera on Cockatoo Island is a fantastic opportunity for anyone wanting to experience opera for the first time.

What’s better than catching a ferry across beautiful Sydney Harbour and being treated to a world-class performance of this much-loved opera in such a relaxed setting?” said Ms Allan.

Carmen on Cockatoo Island tickets are priced between $79 and $149. Pop-up bars and dining provide an all-inclusive evening out at one of Sydney’s most unique locations.

Take a jacket as the wind springs up even on a fine night.

Cockatoo Island is home to the industrial relics of a century of ship-building and architectural marvels dating back to Sydney’s convict past.

Getting There

Audiences can travel to Cockatoo Island on the Opera Australia shuttle ferry running from King St Wharf, which can be booked alongside performance tickets. The island is also accessible by public ferry or water taxi.

It is on until December 18, 2022.
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