Cheryl Barker and Jose Carbo unveil the new opera season in style.

Opera Australia’s season launch on Tuesday August 9 was opened to the public for the first time in the company’s history. No longer just a media and industry affair, the free event showed artistic director Lyndon Terracini is serious about moving the focus away from rarefied circles and reaching out to new audiences.

One of the most inventive initiatives of Terracini’s first programmed season is to abandon the Sydney Opera House’s beleaguered, undersized orchestra pit altogether for the Australian premiere of Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s masterpiece  Die Tote Stadt.The opera’s huge forces will be accommodated by the Studio next door, to be heard in surround sound in the theatre.

It is the right work to entertain such a daring concept: the production will emphasise Korngold’s lush, cinematic orchestral writing – he was one of the 20 thcentury’s most celebrated Hollywood composers – through technological elements including screenings, holograms, and a production directed by film veteran Bruce Beresford.

Soprano Cheryl Barker and baritone José Carbo celebrated the move at yesterday’s launch with preview performances of arias from Die Tote Stadt,in which they will sing leading roles. Other performances at yesterday’s...