Tom McDonnell, Eilene Hannan

Prokofiev’s adaptation of Tolstoy’s War And Peace was the first opera to be performed at the Sydney Opera House, fifty years ago.

With a cast led by Tom McDonnell (winner of TV series Showcase in 1965 ahead of a professional opera career including the British production of War And Peace in London in 1972), Eilene Hannan and Ronald Dowd, War And Peace was not only a significant event for the iconic Sydney Opera House but also an international television event.

ABC and BBC joined forces to produce a colour tape recording of the final dress rehearsal on 26 September 1973 — two nights before the show’s first performance. Because Australian television was still broadcasting in black and white, BBC’s involvement included consulting on colour television testing and production.

The recording was then rushed to the United Kingdom for local transmission on BBC2 on 29 September 1973. ABC broadcast the dress rehearsal on 28 September 1973 in New South Wales, the same night as the first night performance, with Victoria following on 13 October 1973.

YouTube: Brian Castles-Onion (2003 digital restoration, Opera Australia)

The Sydney Opera House was officially opened on 20 October 1973.

The Victorian broadcast of War And Peace is among the latest additions to Classic TV Guides:



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