Madama Butterfly

Eat, Play, Sydney / 26 March 2014

Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour presents – Madama Butterfly. Now in its third year it has become one of the biggest events on Sydney’s cultural calendar. Shh let’s keep this on the down low, but it was actually my first opera- and I was a little bit excited.
I’m told over 600 staff have worked tirelessly to bring this production to life, and it looked amazing! On entry you immediately notice not just the impressive set, but an entire pop-up atmosphere with a Japanese inspired theme. From the decorative lanterns that grace the tree-tops to the far-end of the venue where a platinum dining area has been erected under a bamboo pergola right by the water completely transforming the Fleet Step.
Madama Butterfly (1)
Five dining areas, including the luxurious Platinum Club, are on offer complete with world-class views of Sydney Harbour. The venue opens at 5pm giving guests enough time to wine and dine before the show.
I was lucky enough to experience the VIP Platinum area, which included a 3 course Japanese inspired menu by Fresh Catering matched with Award-winning Tyrell’s Wines. I started the evening with a tea braised chicken and soybean salad, matched with a Tyrell’s Steven’s Single Vineyard Semillion. Both were light and fresh – a great start to the meal.
Tea Braised Chicken & Soy Bean Salad Saffron Emulsion Image courtesy Fresh Catering
Moving on to some heavier protein, the miso marinated beef fillet on bok choy and enoki mushrooms was matched with the Tyrell’s Lunatiq Heathcoate Shiraz. The presentation was elegant and although my beef was a little over cooked for my liking the flavours were robust and complimented each together.
To finish off this gastronomic affair I had a decision to make. Sweet or savoury? Chocolate or cheese? CHOCOLATE! Decadent chocolate and ginger mousse with praline feuilletine was another perfectly presented dish, and despite no trace of any ginger it was a hit!
At $250/head for dinner the price is a little steep, however, a delicious experience and a great way to start the evening.
It was time to enter unchartered territory – the opera!
The stage was overwhelmingly large, covered in fake grass and a bamboo forest. I was worried I wouldn’t understand what was happening but was relieved to see digital subtitles at the bottom of the stage.
The most breathtaking moment for me was when Butterfly and her friends emerged from the trees and when the giant luminous moon emerged from the harbour. Puccini’s music is amazing and I caught myself at times slipping away and forgetting to read what is happening. It didn’t really make a difference.
There were fireworks, taxis darting to and fro chauffeuring members of the cast and fruit bats chittering in the trees. All the while I sat sipping my sparkling wine in front of  iconic views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. It was simply magical. Madama Butterfly (3)
Madama Butterfly is on for a short time between Friday 21 March to Friday 14 April 2014. The opera runs for approximately two hours and forty-five minutes with one thirty-five minute interval. For booking and other detailed information, please see their website.