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Opera Australia leads performing arts industry in COVIDSafe performance practices

Opera Australia leads performing arts industry in COVIDSafe performance practices
February 3, 2021

In an effort to provide a COVIDSafe work environment and significantly reduce the risk of Coronavirus transmission, Opera Australia has become the first performing arts company in Australia to introduce rapid antigen testing, as a key element of their program to keep performers and staff safe from the virus.

As the only major opera company in the world currently performing to a live audience, Opera Australia made a triumphant return to the Joan Sutherland Theatre at the Sydney Opera House last month with a two-week season of The Merry Widow, and declared their innovative COVIDSafe plan was a resounding success.

Unlike polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing which can take up to 48 hours for results, rapid antigen testing provides results in just 15 minutes. The entire cast and orchestra, which equates to almost 100 performers, are being tested as frequently as every three days as part of Opera Australia’s comprehensive COVID Safety Plan, a move that was integral in facilitating the Company’s safe return to the stage for its summer season.

In advance of last night’s premiere of its new production of Verdi’s Ernani, rapid antigen testing is was conducted at the Sydney Opera House while also being undertaken at Opera Australia’s headquarters in Sydney’s Surry Hills, where performers are rehearsing for the upcoming production of Tosca that opens on 22nd February.

Opera Australia is working with respected epidemiologist and public health consultant Dr Henning Liljeqvist and bio-safety expert Dr Bill Anseline’s health and safety management company, Hemisphere Biosecurity, to develop and implement the testing program that meets government and public health requirements and recommendations.

Labelled the testing regime ‘gold standard’, Opera Australia Artistic Director, Lyndon Terracini stated “with so much uncertainty surrounding recent outbreaks, for us to safely return to performing it was vital that we engaged experts to help guide us through the quagmire of COVID-safe practices, amid a constantly changing environment.

“Dr Anseline’s company is at the forefront of best practice solutions, with a focus on the specific requirements the arts and entertainment industries need to function, and it was clear the rapid antigen testing was the way forward for us.”

Medical Director for Hemisphere Biosecurity, Dr Anseline noted “our focus should be on providing bespoke novel ways to integrate knowledge and expertise around infectious disease prevention, training and management which incorporates ‘end-to-end’ solutions.

“A significant part of our future challenge involves aligning people, processes and technology to safely help in the reopening of industries like the arts, entertainment, agriculture, hospitality and tourism.”

Under the advice of Dr Henning, Hemisphere Biosecurity is facilitating asymptomatic testing and is making test data available to public health authorities for inclusion in the NSW daily testing tally.

Asymptomatic testing not only increases the safety for Opera Australia and its patrons, but for the whole community.

Knowing that the virus can be transmitted by asymptomatic people, this testing increases the chances of detecting cases in the community.

In the event of a positive result, protocols are in place to notify NSW Health and follow its directions.

Additionally, there are health screening systems in place to exclude anyone who experiences symptoms.

Hemisphere Biosecurity specialises in COVID-safe practices, providing integrated solutions through education, training and prevention management in the arts, entertainment, agriculture, hospitality and tourism industries.

For more information go to

Image: Opera Australia's performance of Verdi’s Ernani at the Sydney Opera House. Credit: Opera Australia.

Related Articles

1st February 2021 - NIDA and TDC reflect on theatre in the age of video

28th January 2021 - Frozen the Musical at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre a model for future global performances

14th January 2021 - Playing WA supports performing arts tours across Western Australia

13th January 2021 - Sydney Opera House launches discounted $21 tickets for summer performances

8th January 2021 - Opera Australia unfair dismissal case heads to Court

6th January 2021 - Parliamentary Committee advised to back creative arts to improve regional Australia

16th December 2020 - New advisory group aims to strengthen performing arts touring network

14th December 2020 - Sydney’s redeveloped Walsh Bay Arts Precinct welcomes back performing arts companies

11th December 2020 - Opera Australia extends partnerships with Dr Handa and Destination NSW and announces return of Handa Opera in 2021

20th November 2020 - Australian Government announces unlocking of arts rescue funds and venue capacity increases

18th November 2020 - Live Performance Australia releases updated Ticketing Code of Practice

28th October 2020 - The Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre invites feedback on its offerings 

15th October 2020 - Sydney Opera House to reopen a number of venues and spaces

11th September 2020 - Workers rally to save Opera Australia jobs

24th August 2020 - Opera Australia to restructure and sell warehouse base

10th August 2020 - Live Performance Australia releases comprehensive COVIDSafe guidelines

16th May 2020 - Ongoing Coronavirus restrictions lead to nationwide cancellations for Opera Australia

22nd April 2020 - Australian Research Council to deliver virtual design for Opera Australia’s rehearsals

1st April 2020 - Sydney Opera House takes performances online during Coronavirus lockdown

25th March 2020 - Opera Australia announces employee support package to limit Coronavirus impact

23rd April 2019 - Opera Australia’s West Side Story breaks all box office records

5th December 2018 - Sydney Opera House improves accessibility to the Joan Sutherland Theatre

20th December 2017 - Sydney Opera House unveils Joan Sutherland Theatre refurbishment

13th July 2017 - Opera Australia delivering 19 performances across regional Australia

19th August 2014 - Opera Australia dominates at 2014 Helpmann awards

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