Opera Australia’s acclaimed outdoor production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly opens this Friday, 24 March with a spectacular overwater stage at Mrs Macquaries Point. The production runs through to 23 April 2023. 

“Madama Butterfly is one of the opera canon’s most enduring and beautiful pieces of work, and at its heart is a tragic love story that continues to move audiences like few others do. It’s such a pleasure to be able to bring this stunning production back to Sydney Harbour almost a decade after it premiered,” says OA CEO Fiona Allan. 

When it premiered back in 2014 with Spanish director Àlex Ollé at the helm, the production stunned audiences and broke Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour box office records. 

In this grand-scale production, an enormous full moon ascends above the Harbour, a floating sun rises from the waterline and a stunning set transforms before the audiences’ eyes. Plus each night the glittering city skyscape is lit by a thrilling fireworks display.

The title role in this timeless and tragic love story will be shared by the superb Korean soprano Karah Son, and award-winning Korean Australian soprano Eva Kong. They will be joined on stage by an all-star Australian cast and the OA Orchestra under the watchful eye of Maestro Brian Castles-Onion who has conducted every opera production since the inaugural season in 2012.

The custom-built pop-up site is the setting for a quintessential Sydney experience that features world-class opera combined with a stunning vista across Sydney’s iconic Harbour, including views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

More than 500,000 people from across the globe have attended Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour over the past ten years and last year’s season of Phantom of the Opera attracted more than 60,000 people.

  • When: Friday 24 March – Sunday 23 April
  • Where: Fleet Steps, Mrs Macquaries Point, Sydney
  • Running time: Approximately 2 hours and 50 minutes, including one interval
  • Prices: From $99 + booking fee
  • Tickets: Click here 

Madama Butterfly Handa Opera 2023
Opera Australia Madama Butterfly fast facts:
  • The harbour stage is almost two and a half times larger than any other Australian indoor stage.
  • The Madama Butterfly stage is an extra 10m wider than all the HOSH stages
  • This production of Madama Butterfly is the only HOSH production that includes a full set change during interval
  • Building the harbour stage takes a team of at least 150 people, and once constructed it is lifted by two cranes onto pylons in the water to create the seemingly ‘floating’ stage. Throughout the performance, the stage is accessed via a floating walkway.
  • The grassy hill in Act 1 is covered with thirteen hundred squares of artfully trimmed artificial grass topped with a bamboo grove, made from real bamboo.
  • The entire pop-up site is built in about 25 days, with the bulk happening in the first two weeks and cast and creatives arriving for rehearsals from Day 15. During this time, Surf Life Savers keep a watchful eye on the over water activities and safety of construction workers, performers and staff.
  • Conductor Brian Castles-Onion and the Opera Australia Orchestra members are housed in custom-built orchestra studio named the ‘Underworld’ directly beneath the stage. The conductor maintains contact with the singers via in-ear monitors as well as TV monitors.
  • Brian Castles-Onion has conducted every opera since the inaugural season in 2012 and in 2023 will conduct is 100th performance of the opera Madama Butterfly
  • The Opening Night red carpet is 350 metres in length.
  • Approximately 800 glasses of sparkling wine are estimated to be sold each night. Over 26 performances, that’s almost 21,000 glasses!
  • All onstage turf used in the production is recycled and reused
  • 1 speed boat is required per performance
  • 26 fireworks moments throughout the season (including general rehearsals)
  • The sun measures 12 metres in diameter, while the moon measures 6 metres.