Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sydney Day 2: Ballet at the Sydney Opera House and pictures

I’m sitting in Sydney’s Custom House Library (which seems more like an architectural feature than a library – they have fewer young adult books than Auckland’s main library – horror! But it’s a nice architectural feature) hoping the free internet will work and that I’ll be able to post this. If you’re reading this, I must have figured out how to use it.

Our plan yesterday was to go out to Bondi, but we didn’t actually make it. The Angel has been trying to switch her NZ driver’s licence for an Aussie one, but was having difficulty with a lack of instructions and silly desk people at the transport authority, and has to go back some time this week. While she was doing that, I walked to the Opera House and booked some tickets for the Australian Ballet (yay!!!!!). I had a voucher, but the voucher was only useful in November, but it was okay because we got under-27 prices anyway. I had another voucher for buy-one-get-one-free burritos, so we had those for a very late lunch. They were interesting.

The ballet was a trio billed as ‘British Liaisons’, and included Checkmate from 1937, Concerto from 1966 (?) and After the Rain from 2005. After lunch we bussed back home to get ready, took lots of photos and went back into town in our finery. I had trouble finding finery because I haven’t got that much in my suitcase, and I didn’t think Sydney would be cold (IT IS COLD!), but with a bit of creativity I was both well-dressed AND warm.

The classic image of the Opera House is the outside – I never really thought much about the fact that they have concerts there too. They do – over 2500 performances a year, which I thought a rather fantastic number until I realised they have the Concert Hall and the Opera Theatre and some other theatres as well, which makes sense considering the number of shells. We were early, so we stood in the foyer admiring the architecture and drinking Semillon which I’d ordered in a combination French-Australian accent. My accent is going screwy.

We should probably have had dinner before leaving, but we weren’t sure how to fit it in, so we took a box of Maltesers in with us. We had great seats on the balcony and there weren’t any tall people in front of us. The orchestra was in a pit that went all the way under the stage, which I thought was a great idea because they weren’t all squashed in, and the conductor was a woman. I think she’s the first female orchestra conductor I’ve seen. You can see the shape of the shell from inside the theatre, and it’s a lovely space.

Checkmate was first. It tells the story of a chess board, red against black. One of the red knights falls in love with the Black Queen, and hesitates to kill her at a vital move. She then takes his sword, kills him, and goes for the old Red King (she was entirely evil). Wonderful dancing, gorgeous thirties-style costumes and great music. The Castles came on carrying dumbbells, which garnered some titters from the audience. We were a bit confused by the Knights’ Heil-Hitler salutes near the beginning, but possibly that was seen as a loyal, Knight-worthy thing to do when the ballet was choreographed in 1937. The Angel pronounced Checkmate her favourite.

Next was After the Rain, which started with three pairs of dancers doing pas de deux (I think) in grey costumes, which was followed by a lone pair. It was absolutely beautiful and was my favourite of the three. At times it seemed as if the woman was floating through the air, and the movements were all so fluid yet controlled. The dancers got loud applause.

Concerto was the final piece, and I think it involved the entire company. The women were dressed in short, brightly coloured dresses and white tights, which I thought was very sixties, and the men in matching skin-tight leotard/tight things. Lots of movement in concert, and quite a bit of humour in the choreography.

We’d both like to go again, but I’m not sure my budget stretches that far...

And... finally... PICTURES!

Sydney Opera House at sunset

St Mary's Cathedral

An example of the Everything-In-Sydney-Is-Huge phenomenon. Note the size of the basins vs. the window.


  1. one who speaks russianMay 10, 2011 at 6:01 AM

    i would like to see or hear ,descripton of this creative finery.what is the best way to leave you mesages as i wrote you a long fb msg and i am neveer sure what email account you actually use. cau

  2. yes I want to know about the finery too!!
    and...hmmm...how do I tell you who I am??

  3. I'm not sure how you tell me who you are, anonymous lol. Make up a name for yourself and put it in your message :D The finery is on facebook. I have been since agonising over the fact that I did not wear my awesome felted hat, and it would have been perfect! My suitcase is a complete mess, though, and I can't really find anything. Must put it back together tonight.
    If you don't have facebook, I wore my green dress underneath my black corset top, my red boots, black tights and my black-jacket-that-I-bleached-and-tie-dyed-by-mistake-but-still-looks-ok. And starfish earrings :D

  4. oh and russian-speaking-one, best way is probably facebook. Otherwise gmail :)


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