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Sydney Festival invites the city's citizens to dive into culture headfirst. By Cec Busby.
The harbour city transforms under the deft hands of festival
director Lindy Hume to deliver a city crammed with cultural diver-
sity as Sydney shapes up for its annual festival.
Sydney Festival has been holding court with Sydney audiences for 33
years and with each new year, the pressure is on to deliver a festival of ﬁrsts.
This year, Hume (who cut her teeth helming opera) has presented a festival
that runs the gamut from epic productions to intimate trysts. At the festi-
val launch last month, Hume said she wanted to ﬁnd “the real Sydney, the
Sydney with a history and a soul". To do this she did not plan to serve up
overarching narratives but instead “nourish the soul and psyche of the city”
in an “alternative way” with “renewed enthusiasm”.
Thus we have a festival that sees the gloriously hedonistic “la dolce vita
lifestyle” rubbing shoulders with “meaty works of large scale or personal
There's no denying there are plenty of tasty morsels in Hume's appetising
festival menu. The free programs like Festival First Night (which features
performance from Al Green, Voodoo Daddys, Kasey Chambers, Archie
Roach and 43 Rajistani musicians plus more) and Opera in the Domain are
just a few of the crowd pleasers to make a return. Plus certain to be equally
popular are the nightly acts at Beck’s Bar or the one-off performances like
The Dirty Three and Laughing Clowns performing a special Australia Day
concert as part of the Don’t Look Back series at The Enmore.
Here are our tips from the festival guide:
Rogue's Gallery was conceived by actor Johnny Depp and director Gore
Verbinski on the set of Pirates of the Caribbean. The result was a compila-
tion CD featuring a veritable who's who of contemporary music, performing
pirate ballads, sea songs and shanteys.
In an Australian exclusive, a stellar line-up of over 20 rock and folk icons,
actors, punk rockers and more take to the stage on the Forecourt of the Syd-
ney Opera House, along with an exceptional house band, to bring the lore and
fables of the pirates and sailors of the high seas to life. The songs chronicle
a life at sea - from sailors, convicts, travellers and pirates - and all the hard-
ships, horrors, lusts and romance that went along with it. Featuring Mari-
anne Faithfull, David Johansen, Tim Robbins, Sarah Blasko, Katy Steele and
January 28 at 8.30pm; Gates open at 7pm; Forecourt, Sydney Opera House.
Amanda Blank (Becks Bar)
Philadelphia born and bred singer/rapper/performer Amanda Blank embarks
on her ﬁrst solo tour of Australia, bringing her booty shaking hip-hop meets
electro to the Beck’s Festival Bar. She will be showcasing tracks from her
new album, which features collaborations with a long list of producers, DJs
and artists including Lykke Li, Santigold, Diplo, !!! (Chk, Chk, Chk) and
Joining Amanda Blank are DJs Devlin & Darko (BBC Soundsystem /
Spank Rock) and the leading ladies of Australian hip-hop, KillaQueenz.
January 11 - Doors open 8pm. Free entry after 11.30pm (subject to capacity)
Beck's Bar, Hyde Park Barracks. Tix $38 + bf
Oepdipus Rex & Symphony of Psalms
This rarely-performed double bill of Stravinsky masterworks features an epic
staging by internationally acclaimed director Peter Sellars. Sellars’ produc-
tion, created for a reconﬁgured Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, is bru-
tally dramatic, visceral and starkly unadorned apart from seven magniﬁcent
thrones, created by Ethiopian artist Elias Sime to represent the main charac-
ters in the tragedy...
January 28-30 at 8pm; Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House. Tix $129-189
Described as “one of the most daring and highly original dance theatre com-
panies in the world" (The Times), Fabulous Beast is an international ensemble
led by Irish director and choreographer Michael Keegan-Dolan. Nominated
for an Olivier Award following its London premiere, this radical reinterpreta-
tion of the romantic ballet Giselle is dark, shocking and sinister, illuminated
with brilliant ﬂashes of absurd humour. Keegan-Dolan and his virtuosic cast
blend speech, song, stunning imagery and superb choreography in this un-
January 20-26 at Carriageworks. Tix $60-75
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