“Right… where shall I start?” says Dan Potra when I ask about the challenges of staging an opera on the harbour. The work to get the HOSH treatment this year is Puccini’s bums-on-seat La Bohème. Having done the sets and costumes for Turandot on Sydney Harbour, as well as Sydney Opera House – The Opera, Potra’s certainly not afraid of working in unconventional spaces. His matter of fact manner tells me as much.

La Bohème, Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour Dan Potra. Photo © Bridget Elliot

“First and foremost, we have an obligation when we’re working in that amazing space [to remember that] the experience is totally different to that inside a theatre, and that we’ll be putting on a show for people who will be experiencing opera for the first time in many cases,” Potra explains. “So one of the challenges is the fact that we’re in the open air and are facing the Harbour Bridge, one of the most famous sights in the world. Of course it’s going to dwarf anything we do, but if we respectfully insert our own little project within that world, we can actually be part of that...

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