Okay so there are Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover – and I’ve tried most of ‘em. Ten Green Bottles, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Seven Shades of Gray and there’s even A Hole in the Bucket. Well and good. But how many ways are there to see-in the New Year – say if you’re a Sydneysider. Whether it’s luxury-viewing from a Woseley Road mansion avec staffed/stuffed canapes, an apartment rooftop in Potts Point, a boat on the harbour, Barry Humphries’ private party, Clover Moore’s Mayoral gig on the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House, or with your head under the doona. That’s just a sprinkle of options.
The last few years I have been lucky. If you have been following my whereabouts this has included two Clover parties (the floor you are standing on actually shakes when the fireworks explode) and last year I was part of a rent-a-crowd for a wonderful man who lives in an apartment overlooking the city from Macleay St as it curves into Woolloomooloo. This fine 95-year-old retired architect/widower poured champagne into our glasses with the sturdy hand of a man 20 years his younger. And we were there because he wanted to throw a party and mathematically all his friends were dead. We mere 40 to 50-year-olds threw some youth into the room and from his balcony we got the full vista of five different fireworks exploding points. Our host told us that when he first moved into the apartment in 1955 there was only one high-rise building. From his ‘period’ lounge-room he had watched the city grow.
In a world full of great old cities being bombed to smithereens, or overwhelmed by the homeless and rotting garbage, Sydney is an oasis. Signs of growth are everywhere. Let me segue to my job. Just looking at the plays I am going to see over the next seven days (all home-grown product even if linked to the Sydney Festival program). At Belvoir, there is J.M.Barrie’s Peter Pan adapted by Tommy Murphy, directed by Ralph Myers. The next night I’ve got School Dance at STC Wharf One, written for Adelaide’s youth company Windmill by Mathew Whittet, directed by Rosemary Myers, with a cast that includes the deliciously talented Amber McMahon.
Then it’s an adaption by Andrew Bovell for the Sydney Theatre Company of Kate Grenville’s fabulous novel, The Secret River, directed by Neil Armfield, playing at the Sydney Theatre with a cast of over twenty. There’s a new show at The Stables, Caleb Lewis’s Rust and Bone at the Stables. And apparently the new annual David Williamson at the Ensemble is rather good.
Who gives a toss if this year’s Sydney Festival management has decided to invite only a few reviewers to only a few things. I am happy with my lot of home-grown works. Which is my point. The work we can make by ourselves these days can come together and create a mini-festival without attending anything brought in from overseas. There will be hits and misses, as there always is to with the imported stuff too. But we have evolved so much in the past twenty years as a creative city (given the right support), missing out on some imported shows isn’t as as devastating as it was twenty years ago. Meanwhile pesky reviewers effectively banned. Unless every show is already sold out to the rafters, you would have to wonder what is achieved by keeping the media at bay. See this recent post by me - Alison Croggon Retires from Theatre Notes - about the future of reviewing.
One of highlights of the local works is Opera Australia co-production of Verdi’s A Masked Ball with probably my favourite company in the world, Barcelona’s La Fura dels Baus (‘The Rats of the Sewer’. I think I’ve survived four of their shows in different places around the world: my entire being hurled into another stratosphere each time.
Here are some pictures of the production I found on Google. If you have ever thought of taking the leap from theatre into opera land, I don’t think I could more confidently recommend a production (in advance of seeing it myself). Wait for whatever reviews it gets if you like or throw yourself recklessly headlong. These pictures are enough of a draw-card for me. Along with Sydney, La Fura dels Baus is also creating versions of this Masked Ball with Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires; La Monnaie, Brussels; and Norwegian National Opera & Ballet, Oslo. No doubt the Sydney Festival has helped finance and promote the gig – but given the number of local artists involved (musicians and singers) it is not what you would strictly-speaking call an import.
I hope I am not giving too much away. To me these pictures serve as a draw-card. Who wouldn’t want to pull money out of their pocket to see what the image below is all about?
Arriving at last at the main topic of this post: my New Year’s Eve 2012/13! I somehow found myself with two tickets to the OA’s gala night which includes a performance – this year of La Boheme - and then canapes and drinks after which we watch the fireworks from the glassed-in foyer above Clover’s party (or other vantage points). Actually 9pm fire-works at interval and then grog and tastings and idle chat from 10.30 till the bridge and the harbour exploded at midnight into a burst of noise, colour and lights.
The evening hosted by Kylie Minogue!