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Sydney Festival 2013

This Is Sydney in Summer

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These are the rites of summer, the celebratory events of the Sydney Festival taking place each year in the midsummer month of January.

The annual celebration of the performing and visual arts includes indoor and outdoor performances, a number of them free to the public, by Australian and overseas artists, groups, acts.

No doubt there are suprises to intrigue audiences as new works, or new interpretations of older works, are performed in the heightened aura of the arts in midsummer.

Full event listings are on sydneyfestival.org.au. Here are highlights of the 2013 festival:

1. Day One

Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings, courtesy Sydney Festival 2013
Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings, courtesy Sydney Festival 2013

A trio of vastly different outdoor events launched the Sydney Festival on January 5. They were: Fun Run, which told the story of Greek messenger Pheidippides who ran the original marathon (and died on completing it), and involved onlookers into becoming cheerleaders as pyrotechnics and a dance troupe accompanied a marathon on stage at Hyde Park from 9.30am to 2.30pm; The Arrival Cockle Bay, Darling Harbour, from 2pm to 4pm, featuring the giant artwork Rubber Duck, with accompanyiong music, dance, and spectacle; and Daptone Super Soul Revue at The Domain featuring Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Charles Bradley, Menahan Street Band, Budos Band and Sugarman 3 from 7.30pm to 11pm. Opening day events were free to the public.

2. Music / Theatre

Semele Walk
Semele Walk, courtesy Sydney Festival 2013

Sydney Festival events in the category of music/theatre include Semele Walk, a show by Ludger Engels performed to the music of George Frideric Handel at Sydney Town Hall from January 11 to 15; The Peony Pavilion and The Jade Hairpin by the Northern Kunqu Opera Theatre (China) on different dates and times from January 24 to 26 at the Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House; A Masked Ball by Opera Australia and La Fura dels Baus (Australia/Spain) at the Sydney Opera House Opera Theatre from January 16 and extending beyond the festival to February 12; and The Rape of Lucrece by the Royal Shakespeare Company (UK) at the York Theatre, Seymour Centre. from January 22 to 25.

3. Theatre

Masi, photo by Philip Merry, courtesy Sydney Festival 2013
Masi, photo by Philip Merry, courtesy Sydney Festival 2013

There is a wealth of theatre offerings this year being performed not only in large mainstream theatres but also in smaller, cozier venues including both short and longer works. They include Eraritjaritjaka, a reverie about the potency of language and imagination from Theatre Vidy-Lausanne (Switzerland) at the Theatre Royal from January 9 to 13; the world premiere of The Secret River by Kate Grenville adapted for the stage by Andrew Bovell and directed by Neil Armfield (Australia) at the Sydney Theatre from January 12 to February 9; Urban by circus troupe Circolombia (UK/Colombia) at Riverside Theatre from January 15 to 17; and Masi from The Conch Theatre (Fiji/New Zealand) at the Everest Theatre, Seymour Centre, from January 20 to 25.

These and other Sydney Festival theatre events are included in our Sydney Theatre Guide together with performance dates and booking information.

4. Dance

Rian, photo by Ros Kavanagh, courtesy Sydney Festival 2013
Rian, photo by Ros Kavanagh, courtesy Sydney Festival 2013

Interestingly, the category of dance at the 2013 Sydney Festival includes Concrete and Bone Sessions which is described as part theatre, part dance, part urban street sport involving skaters and BMX riders from Branch Nebula (Australia) in a contest of wit, speed and virtuosity at the Dulwich Hill Skate Park, Jack Shanahan Reserve, from January 11 to 19 with previews on January 9 and 10. Also in the dance category are Sacre - The Rite of Spring from Raimund Hoghe (Germany) at Carriageworks Bay 17 from January 5 to 8 and Rian from Fabulous Beast (Ireland) performed at the Theatre Royal from January 17 to 23.

5. Music

Liz Wright, Angelique Kidjo and Dianne Reeves in Sing the Truth, courtesy Sydney Festival 2013
Liz Wright, Angelique Kidjo and Dianne Reeves in Sing the Truth, courtesy Sydney Festival 2013

Various music performances feature in the Sydney Festival with venues as diverse as Sydney Opera House, State Theatre, City Recital Hall, Carriageworks and outdoors in The Domain and on beaches, ferries and other city sites. These include the Sydney Symphony and Sydney Philharmonia Choirs performing a live soundtrack of 2001: A Space Odyssey at the Sydney Opera House on January 24-25; Mali's Rokia Traore performing Dream (Damou) at the Famous Spiegeltent on January 13, Dance (Donke) at Paradiso at Town Hall on January 18 and Sing (Donguili) at City Recital Hall on January 20; Liz Wright, Angelique Kidjo and Dianne Reeves in Sing the Truth at the State Theatre on January 14-15; and Russian horn player Arkady Shikloper heralding the dawn with his giant alphorn at iconic city sites including beaches and ferries on January 6, 9-13 and 16-20.

6. Shorts, Sounds, Scenes, Sights

Ferrython © Tourism New South Wales
Ferrython © Tourism New South Wales

As in previous festival programs, About an Hour is back with a variety of short performances of about an hour, mostly at Carriageworks, and an array of tiny parks throughout Newtown and Erskineville. Rounding out the Sydney Festival are visual arts and installations at Carriageworks, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Mosman Art Gallery, Darling Harbour, Mitchell Library, and Georges Heights Lookout at Mosman; talks on various aspects of the arts; and the Ferrython on Sydney Harbour on Australia Day.

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