13 Sydney Festival shows you can't miss for 2013

It’s that time of year again: the world famous Sydney Festival is arriving this weekend – Saturday the 5th of January to be exact – and as usual there’s so many choices, so much great music and theatre and art to see, that making a decision on what to see and what to miss is not an easy one. Thankfully, we’ve gone through page after page of the festival guide and we’re here to let you know what we reckon should get a look… here now are the 13 shows you shouldn’t miss…

13. Eraritjaritjaka

Heiner Goebbels’ “spellbinding reverie about the potency of language and the imagination” has won awards at festivals around the world and will be making its exclusive Australian debut at this year’s Sydney Festival. The show brings together music, voice, movement, design and video to create a semi-surreal world, inspired by the musings of Nobel Laureate Elias Canetti. Here’s Goebbels talking about the work:

Grab the details and the tickets here: http://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/2013/Theatre/Eraritjaritjaka/

12. Saskwatch

We LOVE this band and reckon you will to. We’ll let their music do the talking though:

The band play at the Salon Perdu Spiegeltent in Parramatta on January 18th. All the details you need are here: http://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/2013/Music/Saskwatch/

11. The Rape of Lucrece

Shakespeare’s narrative poem The Rape of Lucrece is sexually provocative, violent and controversial. Even more controversial, perhaps, will be the way the poem will be presented in this Royal Shakespeare Company production: as a one woman show, where acclaimed Irish performer Camille O’Sullivan embodies both Tarquin and Lucrece through story-telling and song. It was a hit of the Edinburgh International Festival, and we’re looking forward to seeing how that translates for Australian audiences!

Performances are at the Seymour Centre from the 22nd to the 25th – http://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/2013/Music-Theatre/The-Rape-of-Lucrece/

10. So Frenchy So Chic

In this So Frenchy So Chic Sydney Festival installment, the label will be showcasing Melanié Pain (lead singer of Nouvelle Vague) alongside Australia’s own Nadéah, who called Paris home. As they put it, it will be “a night of ultra sassy French chic.” And it always wins over the crowd.

The event will be held at Paradiso, the exclusive venue for Sydney Festival that will take up the Sydney Town Hall. Check it out on January 21st. Details here: http://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/2013/Music/So-Frenchy-So-Chic-Melanie-Pain-and-Nadeah-Paradiso-at-Town-Hall/

9. Rian

Rian is the latest production from Irish dance company Fabulous Beast, with Michael Keegan-Dolan directing and choreographing the work. He has collaborated here with Liam Ó Maonlaí of Hothouse Flowers, drawing inspiration from Ó Maonlaí’s 2005 solo album Rian (‘mark’ or ‘trace’ in Gaelic). With traditional Irish roots, celtic sounds are brought together with elements of West African music and the production will see eight dancers from around the world perform with five of Ireland’s top musicians. Fabulous Beast never disappoint, and this production has been acclaimed the world over so should be no exception.

The production will be held at the Theatre Royal on the following dates: January 17 – 20, 22, 23 at 8pm. More details are here: http://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/2013/Dance/Rian/

8. Kraftwerk’s Computer World

Performed by Nite Jewel (the alias of lo-fi songstress Ramona Gonzalez), in town for Laneway Festival, as well as Peanut Butter Wolf (Stones Throw Records’ figurehead, producer and DJ) this special tribute to Kraftwerk’s Computer World (1981) has been performed around the world to great acclaim. They will be supported by Holiday Sidewinder (ex-Bridezilla) plus DJ Dave Miller (PVT).

The event will be held at the Spiegeltent in Hyde Park on January 27th at 11.30pm. All the details you need, plus tickets, where available, are here: http://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/2013/Music/Kraftwerks-Computer-World-performed-by-Nite-Jewel-Peanut-Butter-Wolf/

7. Lianne La Havas

Every year an artist comes to Sydney Festival who’s young, incredibly talented, and though only has one album under his or her belt, manages to steal the entire festival. We have a feeling that that will very much be the case for singer, songwriter and guitarist Lianne La Havas, a 23 year old Londoner who has been winning fans all around the world, touring with the likes of Bon Iver and John Legend. We can’t wait to see what the buzz is all about…

Tickets to her Sydney shows are sold out (try for Tix for Next To Nix on the day – 18th or 19th), however tickets to her Spiegeltent shows in Parramatta on the 22nd and 23rd are still available. Details here: http://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/2013/Music/Lianne-La-Havas-Parramatta/

6. The Waterboys

We love it when they get the band back together, and we love it even more so when they get back together and decide to tour Australia for the first time! Mike Scott and The Waterboys will be performing An Appointment with Mr Yeats, a tribute to poet and mystic WB Yeats, along with favourites from the band’s acclaimed 30-year career. Should be a phenomenal show.

They’ll be playing at the State Theatre on January 23rd. Details and tickets can be found here: http://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/2013/Music/The-Waterboys/

5. Sharon Van Etten

Brooklyn-based Sharon Van Etten and her three-piece band are making their first visit to Sydney to showcase material from her celebrated third album, Tramp. Having caught her last year in Texas, I know we’re all in for a treat for this one – especially in the surrounds of The Famous Spiegeltent in Hyde Park.

It seems that this fact is not the best kept secret, however! All shows for Sharon – January 6th, 8th and 9th – are sold out, but you can still try your chance at Tix for Next To Nix on the day of the show. Check out the details here: http://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/2013/Plan-Your-Festival/ANZ-Tix-for-Next-to-Nix/

4. 2001: A Space Odyssey

From Ligeti’s “Requiem” to Richard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra” and Johann Strauss’ “The Blue Danube”, the classic Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey will get the classical treatment, with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra playing the entire film’s soundtrack live, alongside the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs. Internationally renowned André De Ridder will be conducting while we sit and enjoy the film as it was meant to be seen: on the big screen.

This event will be held at the Sydney Opera House on January 24th and 25th at 7pm. Tickets and further details can be found here: http://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/2013/Music/2001-A-Space-Odyssey/

3. David Byrne and St. Vincent

Taking over the State Theatre on the 17th and the 18th, the incomparable David Byrne will team up with past Sydney Festival favourite St. Vincent for what is sure to be an extraordinary night of music. The surprising duo will be drawing off their acclaimed record Love This Giant, which was released in September last year, and will be backed by a brass ensemble. I get goosebumps just thinking about it!

More details are here: http://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/2013/Music/David-Byrne-St-Vincent/

2. Sing The Truth

Taking place at the State Theatre on the 14th and the 15th, Sing The Truth is an evening that honours the music and spirit of the great women of music, featuring three incredible talents in their own right: Angélique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves and Lizz Wright. The show has been developed from the tribute to Nina Simone that happened in 2010 at the Opera House and should be a phenomenal night of music. Artists the three women will pay tribute to include Billie Holiday, Miriam Makeba, Joni Mitchell, Ani DiFranco and Lauryn Hill.

All the details you need are here: http://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/2013/Music/Sing-The-Truth/

There will also be a free Sing The Truth event on January 12th in the Domain, as the “Summer Sounds” event for this year. Find out more details about this event here: http://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/2013/Free/Summer-Sounds-In-The-Domain-Sing-The-Truth/

1. The Free Events!

Nothing beats the free events that Sydney Festival offers each year. Though “First Night” has been scaled back to an event called “Day One”, there is still a myriad of opportunities of things to do this Saturday. From seeing the arrival of the inflatable duck, to a performance from the Daptone Super Soul Revue in The Domain, it’s a night not to be missed!

Then there’s the Parramatta Opening Party on the 19th of January that has plenty of other great things happening for the whole family! But it’s the Symphony in the Domain that has us most excited this year, with the music from the films of Stanley Kubrick on display. This is happening on Australia Day and should indeed be a special evening.

Find out more about the free events here: http://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/2013/Free/

Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.