Four times a night, the eastern Bennelong sail of Sydney Opera House is illuminated for seven minutes with animations depicting ancient and contemporary Aboriginal stories. Named Badu Gili, which means “water light” in the language of the Gadigal people, the installation brings Dreaming stories to life and focuses on “how water affects the planet, birdlife, sea life and the land”, the Opera House’s head of First Nations programming Rhoda Roberts told Broadsheet last year.
Badu Gili launched its first year-long installation in 2017, and from December, for the first time, the Opera House will be hosting a free, complementary event called Badu Gili Live on its Monumental Steps. On the first Friday of every month until April 2020, First Nations musicians will perform on the dramatic steps leading up to the iconic building, with the Badu Gili projections as their backdrop. The first performer on December 6 will be theatre star and actor Ursula Yovich. Other upcoming artists include singer-songwriter Leah Flanagan and electro-soul duo Bow and Arrow.
There’ll also be a bar serving drinks and snacks inspired by native ingredients. Expect cocktails such as Light on the Sail (Sydney Opera House x Archie Rose Inside gin, native river mint, ginger, lime and cloudy apple), and hummus with macadamia dukkah and harissa made from native pepper.
The Sydney Opera House was the first major performing arts centre in the country to have an identified First Nations programming area with its own budget. The Indigenous artists who have created work for this series include Judith (Jenuarrie) Warrie, Frances Belle Parker, Alick Tipoti, Minnie Pwerle, Lin Onus, Penny Evans, Mabel Juli, Patrician Ansell Dodds, Mervyn Rubuntja, Djambawa Marawili and Aiona Tala Gaidan.
“Badu Gili shows that our art and culture is as relevant as it was back in the old days, before arrival,” says Roberts. “Those stories we talk about, we talk about them in the now. They’re not Dreamtime stories to us, they’re actually living – dreaming about the past, present and the future.”
Badu Gili is projected on the Opera House every night at sunset, 9pm, 9.30pm and 10pm. Badu Gili Live will take place the first Friday of every month until April 2020, with two performances from 8pm.