Not even wet weather fears can dampen the excitement surrounding Opera on Sydney Harbour.

Opera Australia’s La Traviataon Sydney Harbour by numbers: a mirrored stage 32m wide and 24m deep; a 9m-high chandelier glittering with 10,000 Swarovski crystals; a cast of 75 and a production crew of 300; seating for up to 3,000 people per night and a bill of $11.5m.

“To say ‘bigger than Ben Hur’ or any of those clichés – well, it’s even bigger than that,” chuckles baritone Warwick Fyfe, who sings the role of Germont, Alfredo’s father. “They’re trying to have their cake and eat it, and with sheer ingenuity of thinking, luck and a fair wind, they might actually be able to achieve that.” Just hope there’s not toomuch wind.

Rehearsals haven’t been just another day at the office for Fyfe and the rest of the cast and crew. Opera Australia’s Surry Hills studios were deemed too small to simulate the outdoor space, so the operation was relocated to Olympic Park – an appropriate base given the Herculean task of launching an opera on the scale of a major sporting event.

Then there are the logistics of the open-air staging to consider: mics strapped to...