Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour

The Brief

We were thrilled to work with our friends at Opera Australia for yet another spectacular Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour. We have been providing audio production for Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour since its inaugural year in 2012. This year Opera Australia decided to do something different by staging its first musical, Westside Story. On the spectacular stage, that is Sydney Harbour.


Each year the event is a full-scale Opera or Theatre Production presented on a purpose-built temporary stage installed over water in Farm Cove, Sydney.

The site is built from scratch and is essentially a bare walls venue, everything from the PA system to dressing room is installed underneath the temporary raked seating. The orchestra pit was located over the water, underneath the stage and was covered by microphones, with everything coming together at front of house and monitors.

Radio frequency (RF) was a key part of this show with around 80 frequencies operating in one of the more challenging locations Sydney has to offer. Unlike an indoors theatre production, in this environment, the impact of a mic failure is much more pronounced, so around 20 of the 44 cast wore both a main and backup in addition to their in-ear monitor pack. Hats off to our RF fitters who dealt with over 100 packs and protected them against copious amounts of sweat, expert backflips, and intense fight scenes.

On top of being a very physical show with some very realistic fight scenes, the event is an ‘all-weather’ experience and with the exception of lightning in the site vicinity, the show goes on, so equipment had to be protected to withstand whatever nature and the performers threw at it. Even in the control areas, we had to ensure we were able to operate in the equivalent of running water flowing over the top of tarps within the scaffold bays.


The event was incredible, the spectacular musical was performed as it had never been seen before, with the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge featuring as part of the city skyline. An amazing backdrop for Opera Australia’s first musical on the harbour.

Photography by Hamilton Lund and Prudence Upton