WORDS: Phil Hawkes PHOTOGRAPHY Supplied

The recent success of Brisbane’s Wagner Ring Cycle, and a new production of Aida, were the perfect lead-in to an exciting 2024 for opera and music lovers

If calls of bravo and brava, cheering, standing and stamping as well as thunderous applause are any guide, the Ring Cycle in particular finished on a high note rarely seen in Brisbane. I was lucky to witness the final night of Götterdämmerung, the “twilight of the Gods”, in this trend-setting new production directed by world-famous Chen Shi-Zheng, an event which captured international attention. Conductor Philippe Augian, a noted Wagner specialist, led the enhanced Queensland Symphony Orchestra heroically through these lengthy and challenging orchestral scores…in Götterdämmerung, for example, in the pit there were 124 musicians and on stage, 70 in the combined chorus. Huge sounds befitting the end of Valhalla. And over 30,000 tickets sold for the 12 performances of the Ring and Aida.

The international cast was noteworthy with renowned tenor Stefan Vinke leading the way as Siegfried…and a new star already winning international acclaim, Ann-Louise Cole as Brünnhilde in the final performance. A night to remember (but not for the Gods!). Here’s what some reviewers said:

“One of the finest productions of the four-part epic ever staged” – Limelight

“Sixteen hours in this operatic ‘multiverse’ is a five-star experience” – Sydney Morning Herald

Get ready to plan and book, here are some highlights coming in the next few months:


* Chicago. Murder, greed, corruption, exploitation, adultery, treachery… and “All That Jazz”… so begins this international multi-award-winning musical. The longest-running musical on Broadway, this scorching hot masterpiece is now wowing audiences in Brisbane. Starring Anthony Warlow as Billy Flynn. Lyric Theatre, QPAC, 2 Jan-4 Feb.

*Rent: The Musical. A subject close to home, these days…this Broadway musical left audiences on an “unforgettable high”, according to critics. It’s a modern take on La Boheme, suitable for the over 16s. QPAC Playhouse 27 Jan-11 Feb. 

*Superstar soprano Jessica Pratt celebrates the music of Vincenzo Bellini for a special one-night-only concert of spectacular highlights from the Bel Canto repertoire. Joined by beloved tenors Carlos Bárcenas and Rosario La Spina with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra under the baton of conductor Richard Mills. QPAC Concert Hall, 24 April.

*Jessica Pratt brings her internationally renowned performance of Lucia in Donizetti’s masterpiece Lucia di Lammermoor to Brisbane audiences for the first time. Joined by her long-time collaborator and master of bel canto repertoire Richard Mills conducting the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and the Opera Queensland Chorus. QPAC Concert Hall,  20 and 27 April.

*Dido and Aeneas, the timeless tale of love and tragedy, takes on a contemporary twist as Opera Queensland collaborates with Circa, fusing Baroque opera with the daring artistry of acrobatics. Henry Purcell’s 1689 masterpiece, renowned for its poignant narrative, finds new life in this ground-breaking production. QPAC Playhouse, 11-27 July.



*La Traviata, one of Verdi’s most-performed operas in the world, deservedly so. Violetta is a coveted courtesan, the toast of Paris, desired by many. When she meets the ardent Alfredo, her life changes forever and she longs to break free of her past. But can she? Who is this woman beyond the sparkling salon? This fresh production of an opera classic invites new questions. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House, 2 Jan to 14 March.

*The Magic Flute. Arguably Mozart’s best-loved and most tuneful opera, always a hit with newcomers to the repertoire. Embark on an enchanting adventure and meet a host of wondrous characters in this new production by Kate Gaul…if you love adventure stories, famous music, happy endings, operas performed in English, this is for you. Sydney Opera House, 1 Feb-16 March. 

*West Side Story needs no introduction to most theatre lovers. Leonard Bernstein’s  musical masterpiece returns to Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour in a thrilling, larger-than-life staging. Dynamic dance numbers and fireworks soar across the harbour. A must if you love Romeo and Juliet, showstopping song and dance numbers, a tear-jerking ending. Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, 22 March-22 April.

*Il Trittico. Three short operas by Puccini, one of opera’s greatest composers, offer a triple helping of music and emotion: thrilling drama, personal crisis and sparkling comedy. Not to be missed if you love getting bang for your buck, emotional stories, melodrama…and memorable music.  Sydney Opera House, 3-19 July.




*Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, a brilliant fusion of opera and musical theatre, is my all-time favourite of this genre. Filled with sparkling wit and humour, Candide is utterly irreverent, drawing inspiration from Voltaire, European operetta to Latin American rhythms. We follow our hero and his beloved, Cunégonde, through a world gone mad, inhabited by an endless array of vicious, greedy, lustful, and manipulative characters. Sound familiar? Stars Eddie Perfect and star of Hamilton, Lyndon Watts. Palais Theatre St. Kilda, 8-12 Feb.

*Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Sunset Boulevard presented by Opera Australia and GWB Entertainment is one of the great classics of musical theatre,weaving a magnificent tale of faded glory and unfulfilled ambition. Having been discarded by Hollywood with the advent of “talkies”, legendary silent movie star Norma Desmond is tortured by her longing for a return to the big screen. Starring musical superstar Sarah Brightman making her debut as the unforgettable Norma in this brand new production.  Princess Theatre, Melbourne from 21 May.

*Puccini’s Tosca, opera’s greatest thriller is a taut tale of passion and betrayal, taking place over just 24 hours in Rome. Renowned prima donna Tosca is in love with Cavaradossi, a painter and revolutionary. When the sadistic Chief of Police Scarpia tries to crush them, our heroine finds the strength to do the unspeakable. Margaret Court Arena 24-30 May. 


The above listings feature highlights for the first few months of 2024, but are not comprehensive…there’s much more!  For further information and bookings, visit: