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Contemporary Performance

Extraordinary, eclectic, entertaining

Contemporary Performance is the Opera House’s youngest programming stream, presenting the best in contemporary dance, theatre, circus, magic, comedy, musicals, cabaret and popular culture from Australia and around the world.

Programming innovative, entertaining and genre-defying productions from Australia and the globe, Contemporary performance champions modern storytellers, maverick makers and the reinvention and reinterpretation of classic art forms.

Transforming the Tudors: An interview with Six co-creator Lucy Moss

Ahead of the Australian premiere of SIX, we spoke to co-creator Lucy Moss about the origins and future of the cult show.

Dance, Theatre & Musical Theatre

The Opera House has staged leading productions from pre-eminent dance companies and choreographers such as Akram Khan, Michael Keegan-Dolan, Michael Clark, Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, Ballet Preljocaj and most recently, Sharon Eyal’s L-E-V Dance Company.

The program also builds on a long history of presenting award-winning musical theatre productions including Heathers: The Musical, Miracle City, Green Day’s American Idiot, Sondheim’s classic Assassins and in 2019, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights.

Coming up is SIX, the Musical in January 2020.

Natalia Osipova photographed at Sydney Opera House, August 2019 ('Natalia Osipova’s Pure Dance' is a Sadler’s Wells London Production). Image: Daniel Boud.
Blanc de Blanc in the Studio. Image: Jacquie Manning.

Cabaret & Magic

Summer is the season for circus, magic and cabaret at the Opera House with previous parties including La SoiréeBarbu, Blanc de Blanc and Limbo Unhinged plus large-scale spectaculars such as The Illusionists, Circus 1903 and The Unbelievables.

Coming up is the out of this world circus spectacular Cirque Stratosphere.

Comedy & Culture

The program presents some of the best homegrown and international comedians such as Hannah Gadsby’s comedy phenomenon Nanette in the Concert Hall (now available on Netflix), plus comedy heroes Celia Pacquola, Wil Anderson, Tom Gleeson, Kitty Flanagan, Lano & Woodley and Judith Lucy vs Men.

Contemporary Performance has also presented podcast trailblazer Brian Reed of S-Town; the Sydney premiere screening of Jane Campion’s critically-acclaimed Top of the Lake: China Girl; and the Australian premiere of Stranger Things 2.

Later this year we will present the new show from Hannah Gadsby, Douglas.

Hannah Gadsby performing 'Nanette' in the Concert Hall, 2017. Image: Ben King

Olivia Ansell, Head of Contemporary Performance

Olivia Ansell is a leading curator, performer, director, choreographer, programmer and producer with more than 20 years’ experience.

Voted one of Vivid Sydney’s Top 100 Creative Catalysts, Olivia’s extensive experience includes roles as the co-executive producer and driving force behind the hugely-popular, immersive experience Hidden Sydney, Artistic Director of Sydney Comedy Festival at Sydney Town Hall and Curator of Kings Bloody Cross for Vivid Ideas.

In 2016, she produced Nigel Jamieson’s HOME, Perth International Arts Festival’s largescale concert spectacular featuring 500 artists, including Tim Minchin, John Butler Trio, The Waifs and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra. Previous roles have included the inaugural Executive Producer of Shaun Parker & Company, touring Parker’s dance theatre works across the globe including Sadler's Wells, 2012 London Olympics and NYC’s Summerstage, and Manager of Development for the newly formed Hayes Theatre Co., generating support for Australia’s independent home for musical theatre. 

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Penn & Teller
11 Jan 2020 - 19 Jan 2020
Big Magic. Clever Stunts. Comedy Gold. Come on down for an event filled with mind-boggling magic and full belly laughs in this summer’s biggest Australian debut, Penn & Teller.
Australian premiere Compelling Circus & Magic
Cirque Stratosphere
24 Dec 2019 - 29 Dec 2019
This summer's biggest circus show is out of this world! From the makers of Le Grande Cirque, Circus 1903 and The Illusionists, comes a brand new circus show filled with death defying, logic imploding aerial acts.
Australian premiere Compelling Circus & Magic
Hannah Gadsby: Douglas
17 Dec 2019 - 21 Dec 2019
Hannah Gadsby is an award-winning Australian comedian whose funny, self-deprecating observations have delighted audiences all over the world. Her brand new live show Hannah Gadsby: Douglas aims to take the voice she found for Nanette (2017/2018) and use it. Douglas is the name of her dog who inspired her to put pen to paper and embark on her next journey.
Made in Australia Laugh Out Loud Comedy