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Festival Director: Lieven Bertels

Sydney Festival marked 40 years as a cultural leader in our spectacular city with birthday art projects celebrating the collaborative spirit of the Festival. We infused our annual events with memories of the past and imaginings for the future, while presenting a lively program of free and ticketed events by some of the world’s great artists.

In 2016, the Festival reflected on 40 years by celebrating the diverse players it takes to make a festival. Photographer Eva Vermandel created 40 Portraits of artists, volunteers, audience members and behind-the-scenes staff, exhibited in public sites around the city. An archive of the Festival’s work was created online and 40 Moments were collated from stories shared by artists, staff and audiences.

As always, the Festival introduced Sydney audiences to artists unknown to most Australians.French artist Olivier Grossetête collaborated with Sydneysiders in our largest community participation event to date, The Ephemeral City. Switzerland’s Daniele Finzi Pasca’s take on contemporary visual circus La Verità delighted family audiences, Catalonia’s Antigua i Barbuda whose whimsical mechanical fairground Arquitectura de Feria needed all hands on deck to operate the rides.

From Belgian orchestra Anima Eterna Brugge, to South African DJ Black Coffee, Germany’s Thalia Theater Hamburg and American folk hero Michael Hurley - the Festival premiered performances from well established artists who’ve never performed in Australia.

Sold out shows across several venues characterised this year’s performance works by artists from different nations across Australia – the intimacy of backyard storytelling with Uncle Wes in Fire Bucket, the directorial feature film debut of Stephen Page’s Spear, the physical joy and documentary story of Djuki Mala, the urgency of climate change explored in Marrugeku’s Cut the Sky, the soulful songs of Kev Carmody, and the fusion of Tiwi song, dance and jazz music in Tiwi + Jazz.


+51 Aviacion San Borja
Okazaki Art Theatre, Japan

Double Blind
Stephanie Lake Company, Australia

Fall Fell Fallen
Lonely Circus, France

In Between Two
Performance 4A, Australia

O Mensch!
Sydney Chamber Opera, Australia

This Is How We Die
Christopher Brett Bailey , UK

Tomorrow's Parties
Forced Entertainment, UK


Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs!
Alan Cumming, USA

Meow Meow's Little Mermaid
Meow Meow, Australia

Songs for the Fallen
Critical Stages and Shane Anthony, Australia

The Very Worst of The Tiger Lillies
The Tiger Lillies, UK


Knee Deep
Casus Circus, Australia

La Verita
Compagnia Finzi Pasca, Switzerland

What Will Have Been
Circa, Australia


Anima Eterna Brugge Beethoven's Symphonies
Anima Eterna Brugge, Belgium

Bach and his Dutch Contemporaries
Simon Murphy and New Dutch Academy, Australia / The Netherlands

Symphony in the Domain
Sydney Symphony Orchestra / Conductor Andre de Ridder, Australia / Germany

William Kentridge + Matthais Goerne, South Africa / Belgium


The Invisible Dot Cabaret,UK


Cut The Sky
Marrugeku Australia

Nick Power Australia

Rosas, Belgium

Bangarra Dance Theatre, Australia

Vortex Temporum
Rosas & Ictus, Belgium


40 Portraits
Eva Vermandel, UK / Belgium

El Anatsui: Five Decades
El Anatsui, Ghana

Pleasure Garden
Genevieve Lacey, Australia

Skateboarders vs Minimalism
Shaun Gladwell, Australia

The Book of Sand
Created by Michel van der Aa, The Netherlands / Australia

The Column
Adrian Paci, Albania

The Ephemeral City
Olivier Grossetête, France

The People's Tower
Olivier Grossetête, France


Arquitectura de Feria
Antigua I Barbuda, Catalonia

Djuki Mala

My Family's Weirder Than Your Family
Josh Earl, Australia

Sunny Ray and the Magnificent Moon
Arena Theatre Company and Salvador Dinosaur, Australia

Casus Circus, Australia


Summer Sounds in The Domain
The Flaming Lips, USA

St Stephen's Sunday Folk
Mirel Wagner & Nadia Reid, Finland / NZ
Michael Hurley & Meg Baird, USA
Sir Richard Bishop & Daniel Bachman, USA

Arthur Russell's Instrumentals directed by Peter Gordon
Peter Gordon, Ernie Brooks, Gerry O’Beirne, Peter Zummo, Bill Ruyle, Max Gordon, Kit Fitzgerald

Birdman (or, the unexpected virtue of ignorance)
Screening and Live Score
Antonio Sanchez, Mexico

Cosmic Cambodia
The Cambodian Space Project, Cambodia / Australia

Dam-Funk, USA

Dirty Three, Australia

Jack Ladder, Kirin J Callinan, Donny Benet, Laurence Pike

Exit Ceremonies
The Australian Art Orchestra and Ensemble Offspring, Australia


Black Coffee
South Africa

Girlpool, USA

Hailu Mergia w/Tony Buck & Mike Majowski, Ethiopia / Australia

Jenny Hval, Norway

Joanna Newsom, USA

Kate Tempest, UK

Kev Carmody, Australia

Klub Koori
Gadical Information Service Redfern, Australia

Maru Tarang, Australia / India

Matthew E. White, USA

Mexrrissey: Mexico Goes Morrissey

Deadly Dragon Soundsystem ft. Screechy Dan & Lord Echo, Jamaica / USA / New Zealand

Reykjavik Calling
FM Belfast & Hermigervill

Ryley Walker, USA

Muziektheater Transparant / Claron McFadden, Belgium

Thank God It's 2016
702 ABC Sydney , Australia

The Apartments, Australia

The Blackeyed Susans, Australia

The Chills, New Zealand

The Migration
Stu Hunter, Australia

The Weather Station, Canada

Tiwi + Jazz
The Tiwi Strong Women's Group, Australia


Opera in the Domain
Opera Australia

Soloists Elise Caluwaerts + Wiard Witholt, Sydney Chamber Opera, Directed by Pierre Audi, Revival Director Miranda Lakerveld, Conducted by Jack Symonds
Australia / The Netherlands / Belgium

The Rabbits
Opera Australia + Barking Gecko Theatre Company, Australia


Art Festivals: The Long and Winding Road
Keynote address by Robert Wilson, USA

Artist Talk: Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker

UTS Big Thinking Forums


All The Sex I've Ever Had
Mammalian Diving Reflex, Canada

Fire Bucket
Uncle Wes Marne, Australia

The Events
Belvoir, Malthouse Theatre + STCSA, Australia

The Object Lesson
Geoff Sobelle, USA

Thalia Theater Hamburg, Germany



2015 program

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