Let’s face it – you could visit the Sydney Opera House or State Theatre and not see a show. And be perfectly happy. So many of the city’s performance venues are that beautiful. Uniting the two – a stunning location with an equally thrilling show – just seals the deal. Even better if you’re in the vicinity of the city’s hottest restaurants and bars for a little pre- or post-celebration.
Sydney Opera House
Sydney’s most legendary (and lauded) attraction, the Sydney Opera House is not only an architectural masterpiece, but also one of the world’s finest venues when it comes to the performing arts. Every year it hosts hundreds of shows, from opera (but of course) and musicals to comedy and workshops. Drop in to Opera Bar in the shadow of the House’s sails for pre- or post-theatre refreshments, with unmatched views across Sydney Harbour toward the impressive Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Every year, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed masterpiece, along with the Royal Botanic Garden and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, form the nightly backdrop for your favourite classics in an outdoor extravaganza by Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour (returning in 2023 with Madama Butterfly). Think balmy summer evening, stage ‘floating’ over the harbour, twinkling city lights in the background… and some of the world’s best performers belting out tunes.
A major force in Australian drama since its establishment in 1978, Sydney Theatre Companypresents an annual season of diverse productions at its own venues at The Wharf in Walsh Bay and at the nearby Roslyn Packer Theatre. It is also the resident theatre company of the Sydney Opera House. This performance powerhouse has helped launch and nurture the careers of many of Australia’s internationally renowned actors.
Based in Kirribilli, on the edge of the Sydney Harbour, Ensemble Theatre is the longest continuously-running professional theatre in Australia. Committed to presenting the best of international plays, well-loved classics and new Australian works, many of Australia’s favourite performers have appeared on stage here, from Lorraine Bayly to Russell Crowe.
Patrons at Bayly's Restaurant enjoying waterside dining at Ensemble Theatre, Kirribilli
Belvoir St Theatre
In 1984, a group of 600 theatre lovers purchased Belvoir St Theatre in Surry Hills, to save it from becoming an apartment block. Since then, the company has presented an enormous variety of shows in a setting that is intimate and makes you feel part of the action.
Located on the grounds of the University of Sydney in Chippendale, the Seymour Centre’s annual roster of shows is as diverse as it is dynamic – expect everything from theatre and concerts to film festivals. The venue aims to foster the next generation of artists and often partners with the city's major cultural events, such as the Sydney's Writer's Festival and the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, so expect to see work that champions new and wide-ranging voices.
21 Breaths installation, The Seymour Centre, Darlington - Credit: James Horan
Griffin Theatre Company
The Griffin Theatre Company performs in the historic S,B&W Stables Theatre in Kings Cross. This is another intimate experience, but one that has big things in mind: it’s dedicated to the development and staging of new Australian writing.
Located on the banks of the Parramatta River, Riverside Theatres puts on a staggering number of performances every year. Parramatta’s palate-pleasing ‘eat street’ is moments away for a pre-show meal (or post-show cocktail).
Destination NSW acknowledges and respects Aboriginal people as the state’s first people and nations and recognises Aboriginal people as the Traditional Owners and occupants of New South Wales land and water.