ARETHA A Love Letter to the Queen of Soul
17 – 18 June 2023
R-E-S-P-E-C-T to the Queen of Soul. ARETHA is a powerful memoir, live on stage, that celebrates the life and music of one of the greatest voices in history.
Experience an unforgettable night of music and memories honouring the legacy of the global superstar Aretha Franklin. Narrated and directed by the multi-talented Jada Alberts, the concert features outstanding Australian vocalists Emma Donovan, Montaigne, Thandi Phoenix, Thndo, Ursula Yovich – with music direction by Joe Accaria and a nine-piece band.
Celebrate and groove along to her most cherished hits; ‘Respect’, ‘I Say a Little Prayer’, ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman’, ‘Think’ and more.
Saturday 17 June
Sunday 18 June
$8.95 booking fee applies per transaction
The only authorised agency for this event is Sydney Opera House. For more information about Authorised Agencies, see the frequently asked questions below. Prices correct at the time of publication and subject to change without notice. Exact prices will be displayed with seat selection. Children aged 15 years and under must be accompanied at all times.
For any special access requirements phone the Contact Centre on 02 9250 7777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sydney Opera House Insiders pre-sale
9am, Tuesday 7 March 2023
Become a Sydney Opera House Insider to receive exclusive pre-sale access
What’s On e-newsletter on-sale
9am, Wednesday 8 March 2023
General Public tickets on-sale
9am, Friday 10 March 2023
This show runs for 2 hours and 20 minutes.
Including a 20 minute interval.
Event duration is a guide only and may be subject to change.
Recommended for all ages.
Children aged 15 years and under must be accompanied at all times.
Also on this page
It’s time to dance, celebrate and show a little respect.
Aretha Franklin is one of the most influential voices in the history of pop music. Through storytelling and soul, discover more about the woman behind the voice. Travel through time from her early gospel roots and rise to fame, to her legendary hits and lasting impact on music.
From ‘Respect’ to ‘Natural Woman’, Aretha Franklin's timeless classics have become an essential part of musical history. Triumphantly sitting at the pinnacle of the musical pantheon, her life was also shrouded in pain, depression, struggles and hardship.
Celebrate the life of a woman who broke down barriers and paved the way for generations to come. The spirit and fire behind her voice earned her many accolades, including 18 Grammy awards, over 75 million records sold, and the number one place on Rolling Stone’s ‘Greatest Singers of All Time’. Her expressive voice connected with audiences – and together they shared heartbreak, longing, and love.
An incredible evening of entertainment, this production will chart not only the music but the ups and downs of an extraordinary career. It’s time to dance, celebrate and show a little respect.
Presented by Sydney Opera House in association with Peter Rix.
Highly celebrated, ARIA-nominated, award-winning Indigenous singer and songwriter Emma Donovan has been touring the country for over 20 years, performing soulful songs, and sharing powerful stories with audiences around the globe.
Emma first appeared on the stage with her renowned family band The Donovans, performing church song renditions with her mother Agnes, her five uncles and maternal grandparents Micko and Aileen.
Emma has toured and recorded with the best in the Australian music scene including Paul Kelly, The Teskey Brothers, Paul Grabowsky, Spinifex Gum and the late Uncle Archie Roach and Aunty Ruby Hunter. Emma is now best known for her work with greatly admired Melbourne rhythm combo The Putbacks and the extraordinary Black Arm Band project. Her collaboration with The Putbacks has won multiple awards including best Soul/RnB album 2021 (Crossover) and 2022 (Under These Streets) at the AIR Awards and Best Soul, Funk R&B or Gospel Act, Best Group and Best Album for ‘Crossover’ at the 2021 Music Victoria Awards.
On her mother’s side, Emma is part of the famed Donovan family of singers of the Gumbaynggirr people, of what is now known as Northern New South Wales. On her father’s side, Emma is of the Yamatji people, of what is now known as Western Australia.
Emma regularly performs songs in Gumbaynggirr and Noongar traditional languages, and shares stories to provide her audiences with an understanding of Country and community.
Following the release of EP THE LIFE OF MONTAIGNE and then debut album GLORIOUS HEIGHTS, Montaigne’s evolution as an artist was a journey fans and industry became part of, as they were able to witness them growth as a musician and performer on stages nationally.
The release of GLORIOUS HEIGHTS featuring the ARIA Platinum certified single ‘Because I Love You’ propelled Montaigne onto more radars around the country and earned accolades including a #4 ARIA Chart position and the ‘Best Breakthrough Artist’ award at the 2016 ARIA Awards.
2019 saw the arrival of their sophomore album, a collection of observations and stories beautifully delivered against a backdrop of sprawling and theatrical sounds, fittingly titled COMPLEX. The album was representative of the artist who had been powering ahead in carving out their own lane in Australian music - bold and undeterred.
2020 brought another pivotal moment for Montaigne, as they were selected to represent Australia at Eurovision in Rotterdam 2020, having won the Eurovision: Australia Decides competition with their stunning original song, ‘Don’t Break Me’. Returning in 2021 to represent Australia on the world stage in a live broadcast to Rotterdam with their single ‘Technicolour’.
Reining in their new era of music with the single Now (In Space), Australian pop maverick Montaigne followed the release collaborating with one of the world’s most celebrated and influential artists, David Byrne on their new single ‘Always Be You’.
Thandi Phoenix is a dynamic artist - a vocal powerhouse with unique tone, magnetic energy & commanding stage presence. The South African / Australian roots her artistic beginnings in Soul and R&B. She began song writing in her teens and throguhout, her scope of sonic influences widened as she developed a deep love for electronic music and began experimenting with her sound.
This is where Thandi Phoenix really hit her stride commercially with her unique take on dance infused pop, showcased not only in her solo work but through her list of successful collaborations with artists such as Rudimental , Sigma & Pat Lok to name a few.
In 2021 her collaboration with Mell Hall, saw the duo take out longest reigning female lead #1 on the Australian ARIA Club Chart.
Some artists are just made for the stage, and Thandi is one of them.
She has garnered a reputation for her outstanding high energy live performances and established herself as one of Australia’s best live performers. Playing at festivals such as Splendour In The Grass, Spilt Milk, This That, CurveBall and Womadelaide.
Her set at SITG was hailed by Triple J as the Saturday Standout performance, labelling it as ‘All class from front to end’.
2022 has brought about many big shifts for Thandi, with more life experience, laser sharp focus and new music in the bag - Thandi Phoenix is ready to turn up the heat more than ever before!
For many Australian audiences, the ‘First Lady of Soul and R&B’ is a description that takes stunning form in Thndo.
A multi-faceted entertainer, Thndo is an artist whose work not only speaks truth to power, but as a performer her presence radiates a natural warmth and charisma that has endeared her to audiences nationwide for almost a decade.
Ursula Yovich is an extraordinary multi-hyphenate artist: an award-winning actor, playwright, singer, song-writer and storyteller in both stage and screen, performing on stages across Australia and internationally, including Carnegie Hall (Australia Plays Broadway), New York.
Ursula created and originated the titular role in Barbara and the Camp Dogs, which premiered at Belvoir Street Theatre and toured nationally, winning her a Helpmann Award for Best Female Actor in a Musical in 2019. Ursula also won Helpmann Awards for Best Female Actor in a Play in 2007 for Capricornia, and for her cabaret show, Magpie Blues (her 2010 album, Ursula Yovich Live, features songs from the show).
Other theatre credits include Badu Gili and Jerry Springer: The Opera at Sydney Opera House; Appropriate, Love and Information, The Golden Age, Power Plays, Bloodland, The Secret River, and The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui (STC); Neglected Musicals song cycle Well-Behaved Women; Red Carpet Cabaret (Darlinghurst Theatre); writing and performing in The Man with the Iron Neck for Brisbane, Sydney, Darwin and Adelaide Festivals (Legs on the Wall); Dubboo – Life of a Songman, in collaboration with Archie Roach and Djakapurra Munyarryun (Bangarra); Diving For Pearls (Griffin);1967: Songs in the Key of Yes, later staged at Sydney and Adelaide Festivals (Secret Chord); Dot & the Kangaroo and Creature (Stalker Theatre); A Christmas Carol and guest on Wesley Enoch’s 20 Questions (Belvoir); Mother Courage in Mother Courage and Her Children, (Queensland Theatre; Waltzing the Wilarra (Yirra Yaakin); Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, (Windmill); One Night the Moon (Malthouse Theatre); Winyanboga Yurringa (Carriageworks) and the one woman play The Magic Hour (Deckchair).
Ursula’s cabaret An Evening with Ursula Yovich debuted at Ensemble Theatre in 2022, and played The Sydney Festival 2023. She appeared in Four Little Birds in 2015 for the Garmalang Festival, Darwin, (and MC’d the Festival’s Santos Opening Night Concert the previous year); Melbourne Comedy Festival (Eddie Perfect) in 2016 and toured extensively in Australia, NZ and the US with The Black Arm Band on their Dirtsong tour. Ursula has also appeared at Claire’s Kitchen in Sydney.
Ursula won a Best Supporting Actor Film Critic’s Circle Award in 2020 and an AACTA Best Supporting Actor nomination in 2019 for her role in the feature film Top End Wedding; other films include Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, Goldstone, This Winter, Around the Block, and Jindabyne. Her small screen credits include Netflix’s Irreverent, Foxtel’s The Twelve, ABC’s Preppers, Amazon’s The Moth Effect, ABC iView’s Wakefield, Mystery Road, The Code, Devil’s Dust, Redfern Now, The Gamers, Faboriginal, How to Stay Married, Playschool, The Gods of Wheat Street, Doctor Doctor, Rake, and Wanted. Ursula is the voice of ‘Levi’ in the NITV/SBS children’s animated TV series, Little J & Big Cuz, on which she is also a writer.
Ursula has taken part in the National Playwrights Conference (Canberra), National Play Festival (Perth), National Script Workshops for Playwrighting Australia (Sydney), and was the recipient in 2015 of the Balnaves Foundation’s Indigenous Playwright’s Award and the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Individual Award.
Jada was born and raised on their mother’s country, Larrakia country (Darwin, NT), and has family ties to the Yanyuwa, Bardi and Wardaman peoples.
As a writer, Jada was awarded the Balnaves Indigenous Playwright’s Award in 2013 and the Mona Brand Emerging Playwright’s Award in 2016.
In 2014 their debut work BROTHERS WRECK was part of the main stage season at Belvoir to critical acclaim. It received a nomination at the 2014 Sydney Theatre Awards for Best New Australian Work, and made the shortlist for the Nick Enright Prize for Playwriting at the 2015 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. It was also nominated for Best Stage Play at the 2015 AWGIE Awards.
Jada has worked extensively in theatre, including working as an assistant director for THE GLASS MENAGERIE in 2014, and WINDMILL BABY in 2011, both for Belvoir. 2015 saw Jada continue their collaboration with Belvoir, co-writing ELEKTRA/ORESTES with resident director Anne-Louise Sarks, and was dramaturg for KILL THE MESSENGER directed by Anthea Williams.
In 2016 Jada directed their first show at Belvoir TITLE & DEED. They also made the cross-over into television as Associate Script Producer on the second series of CLEVERMAN (Goalpost), also co-writing two episodes.
In 2016-2017 Jada completed a writing fellowship with Bell Shakespeare and in 2017 Jada was the Assistant Director on Sydney Theatre Company’s production THREE SISTERS, directed by Kip Williams.
In 2018 Jada directed their play BROTHERS WRECK at the Malthouse Theatre and the State Theatre Company of South Australia to rave reviews.
Jada has recently directed the acclaimed stage production THE SEVEN STAGES OF GRIEVING for Browns Mart Theatre, and also co-wrote JARRADAH GOORAGULLI DANCE OF THE BROLGAS with Mooradoop Kathy Mills, which premiered in April 2022 at Brown Marts Theatre, Darwin.
Joe is an honours graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music holding Bachelors in Music (Percussion). Joe has worked extensively worldwide as a musician and music director.
Music direction credits include Dein Perry’s Tap Dogs, iOTA B-Girl (SOH), The Motown Show (Human Nature), Velvet (Organised Pandemonium), Gypsy (Hayes Theatre Co), Pigalle (Sydney Festival). Joe is also the Musical Director for David Campbell (Luckiest Productions) and Marcia Hines’ live show Disco Inferno.
Joe’s recent performance credits include Darlinghurst Theatre’s 2019 production of Once; the World Premiere of Dream Lover with David Campbell and the Helpmann Award winning Smoke & Mirrors with iOTA, directed by Craig Ilott. Joe was a co-recipient of the Helpmann Award for Best Original Score with iOTA.
Joe is the soundtrack producer on the award winning, Velvet. ‘The Original Cast Recording of Velvet’ was nominated for an ARIA award in 2016. Recently, Joe has arranged and produced David Campbell’s 2021 album release ‘The Saturday Sessions’ and Marcia Hines’ upcoming new album, ‘The Gospel According To Marcia’.
Joe is the co-creator, composer and co-producer of the all-female percussion stage show, DrummerQueens which premiered at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre in February 2021.
Our foyers will be open 90 minutes pre-show for Concert Hall and Joan Sutherland Theatre performances, and two hours pre-show for Western Foyer venue performances. Refreshments will be available for purchase from our theatre bars. Please remember to maintain physical distancing whilst consuming drinks in our foyers.
All Sydney Opera House foyers are pram accessible, with lifts to the main and western foyers. The public lift to all foyers is accessible from the corridor near the escalators on the Lower Concourse and also in the Western Foyer via the corridor on the Ground Level (at the top of the escalators). Pram parking will be available outside the theatres in the Western Foyer consistent with COVID-safe rules.
The Sydney Opera House Car Park, operated by Wilson Parking, is open and available to use. Wilson Parking offer discounted parking if you book ahead. Please see their website for details.
Please check the Transport NSW website for the latest advice and information on travel and COVID-19 safety measures. You can catch public transport (bus, train, ferry) to Circular Quay and enjoy a six min walk to the Opera House.
The health and wellbeing of everyone attending the Opera House is our top priority. We’re committed to making your experience safe, comfortable and enjoyable, with a number of measures in place including regular cleaning of high-touch areas, air conditioning systems that maximise ventilation, and hand sanitiser stations positioned in all paths of travel. We encourage you to wear a mask in indoor settings or when physical distancing can’t be maintained, and please stay home if you feel unwell. If you need to discuss your ticketing or booking options, contact our Box Office team on 02 9250 7777.
Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of everyone on site, and we are closely following NSW Health guidelines and advice. The Sydney Opera House is registered as a COVID Safe business with the NSW Government. For detailed information about our COVID-19 safety measures and what’s required of you when visiting, please see our plan your visit page.
Face masks are strongly recommended for all patrons while inside our theatres and foyers, including during the performance. Please bring your own mask.
As you move around the Opera House, practise physical distancing (1.5 metres whenever possible) and follow the guidance provided by our staff and signage.
Within venues, always take your allocated seat.
For detailed information about our COVID-19 safety measures and what’s required of you, please see our plan your visit page.
The Sydney Opera House no longer requires patrons to show that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Face masks are strongly recommended for all patrons while inside our theatres and foyers, including during the performance. Please bring your own mask.
Contact information is required when making a booking with us and upon arrival at the Opera House, as set out in our General Terms and Conditions for Tickets and Attendance at Events and our Customer Privacy Statement.
As the ticket purchaser, you are responsible for recording the contact details of your guests. Contact information will only be used for the purposes of contact tracing, if required, and will be deleted at least 28 days after your event.
Frequently asked questions
Ticket purchases and collection at our Box Office is discouraged and eTicket or postal delivery methods should be used, wherever possible. However, if you are collecting your tickets from the Box Office, we recommend doing this at least 60 minutes before the event starts. If you have already received your tickets, the venue doors will be open 45 minutes pre-show for Joan Sutherland Theatre performances, and 30 minutes pre-show for Western Foyer venue performances. Please take your seats as soon as you arrive.
If you are late, we will seat you as soon as we can and, where possible, in your allocated seat. However, to reduce movement in the venue as well as minimise disruption to the performance and other patrons, ticketholders may be seated in an allocated latecomer’s seat. Please be aware that some events have lock-out periods. In these cases, latecomers will be admitted at a suitable break in the performance. On occasions, this may not be until the interval, or at all where there is no interval.
Details of our right to refuse admission can be found in our General Terms and Conditions for Tickets and Events.
In accordance with our venue security procedures, Opera House security will be scanning and checking bags under the Monumental Stairs, prior to entering the building. Bags will be scanned by an x-ray machine, and staff will wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when handling your belongings, such as gloves. Cloaking facilities will be open 60 minutes pre-show for Concert Hall and Joan Sutherland Theatre performances, and 60 minutes pre-show for Western Foyer venue performances. However it is strongly encouraged that you travel lightly to minimise contact and queuing. Any bags larger than an A4 piece of paper will need to be checked into the Cloak Room.
The authorised agency for this event is the Sydney Opera House.
Only tickets purchased by authorised agencies should be considered reliable. If you purchase tickets from a non-authorised agency such as Ticketmaster Resale, Viagogo, Ticketbis, eBay, Gumtree, Tickets Australia or any other unauthorised seller, you risk that these tickets are fake, void or have previously been cancelled. RESALE RESTRICTION APPLIES. For more details, please refer to our General Terms and Conditions for Tickets and Attendance at Events.
Please contact Box Office on 9250 7777 as soon as possible to advise if you can no longer attend. If you can no longer attend because you are unwell, or have been in contact with someone displaying COVID-19 symptoms, the Opera House has introduced flexible ticketing options to help you, find out more information here.
Foyers will be open 90 minutes pre-show for Concert Hall and Joan Sutherland Theatre performances, and two hours pre-show for Western Foyer venue performances. Refreshments will be available for purchase from our theatre bars.
The venue doors will be open 45 minutes pre-show for Concert Hall and Joan Sutherland Theatre performances, and 30 minutes pre-show for Western Foyer venue performances.
Please bring a credit or debit card for any on site purchases to enable contactless payment. You’re welcome to bring your own water bottle but no other food and drinks are permitted inside our venues. Opera Bar, Opera Kitchen and Portside are also available for you to enjoy.
The health, safety and wellbeing of everyone at the Sydney Opera House is our top priority. In line with this commitment, the Opera House will become a smoke-free site from Saturday 1 January 2022.
By becoming a smoke-free site, the Opera House seeks to reduce exposure to harmful second-hand smoke, as well as minimise the impact of smoking on the environment, including litter and pollution of the surrounding marine environment.
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