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SIX, January 2020, in the Studio. Image: James D Morgan for Getty Images.

Contemporary Performance

Extraordinary, eclectic, entertaining

Contemporary Performance presents the best in contemporary dance, music theatre, cabaret, circus, magic, comedy and popular culture from Australia and the world.

Curated by Ebony Bott, Contemporary Performance showcases blockbuster entertainment and champions innovative new productions by some of today’s best storytellers who provoke, energise and transfix audiences with reinventions of the classics.

Be spellbound at contemporary dance, swoon with cabaret, laugh at comedy, gasp at the circus, be uplifted by musicals and escape with vital contemporary stories. 

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 & Music Theatre

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

Award-winning music theatre presentations include: Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights, West End hit pop musical SIX, Heathers: The Musical, Miracle City, Green Day’s American Idiot, Sondheim’s classic Assassins, crowd-pleaser Thrones! The Musical Parody and cult ‘60s classic HAIR

In The Heights, January 2019, in the Concert Hall. Image: Clare Hawley.
The Choir of Man, November 2019, in the Studio. Image: Prudence Upton.

Cabaret & Magic

Over summer, the Opera House’s stages are home to an abundance of circus, magic and cabaret. From the likes of Limbo Unhinged and Blanc de Blanc Encore!, to Michael Feinstein and The Choir of Man, summer entertainment thrills audiences with bold burlesque, captivating cabaret and exciting acrobatics. The program also includes large-scale spectaculars such as The Illusionists, Circus 1903, The Unbelievables and Cirque Stratosphere

Cabaret is also a fixture in the Opera House’s digital program, From Our House to Yours, with cabaret stars Paul Capsis, Emma Pask, The Tap Pack and Tim Draxl all performing on the Joan Sutherland Theatre stage and broadcast into the homes of audiences around the world. 


Contemporary Performance celebrates Australia’s world-class comedians, presenting Hannah Gadsby’s comedy phenomena Nanette and follow-up Douglas in the Concert Hall, as well as comedy heroes Celia Pacquola, Wil Anderson, Tom Gleeson, Kitty Flanagan, Lano & Woodley, and Judith Lucy.

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

Ebony Bott, Head of Contemporary Performance

Ebony Bott has 16 years’ experience as a festival director, programmer, and creative producer in Australia and New Zealand, working across a variety of senior curatorial, marketing, and audience development positions. She was most recently Creative Director of Cabaret and Commercial at Adelaide Festival Centre, (Jan 2018-Oct 2020) where she curated and delivered the award-winning Adelaide Cabaret Festival and the broader musical theatre and commercial program. 

Prior to this, she was the Creative Producer of Families and Young People at Arts Centre Melbourne. She has worked in many leading Australian theatre companies in a range of marketing, producing, and directorial roles including Arena Theatre Company, Back to Back Theatre, Circus Oz as well in festival focused roles at the Australian Festival for Young People (Come Out) and New Zealand’s National Theatre for Children and Children’s National Arts Festival in Wellington. She has also worked as a freelance producer for Yana Alana & Tha Paranas; Dee & Cornelius; and contemporary dance artist Alison Currie.

Explore what's on...

American Psycho: The Musical
03 Jun 2021 - 27 Jun 2021
Power. Privilege. Psychopathy. Meet Patrick Bateman, the man with it all; the Wall Street job, the raging ego and, of course, the secret serial murders. Step into his office as this pitch black comedy enters the deranged world of an original psycho killer.
Cry-Baby The Musical
22 Jul 2021 - 15 Aug 2021
Based on the cult-classic John Waters film, 'Cry-Baby The Musical' follows star-crossed lovers in a rock n roll romance of hilariously absurd proportions. Drenched in pastel-coloured glamour and classism of the 1950s, Cry-Baby is a unique, strange and totally endearing musical.
Velvet Rewired
07 Oct 2021 - 14 Nov 2021
Lead by the divine Marcia Hines alongside a dazzling array of acrobats, aerialists and vocalists, prepare a euphoric dose of disco fever and a touch of glitter - not to mention an epic disco soundtrack that will have you boogying all the way to wonderland in your seat.