Sydney Opera House announces year-long celebration for its 50th anniversary

From-the-Sails-Light-Years-(render)-courtesy-of-Sydney-Opera-HouseThe Sydney Opera House has announced the first line-up in its unmissable 50th anniversary program.

Beginning in October 2022, and culminating at its 50th birthday in 2023, the Opera House will celebrate five decades of extraordinary creativity with a year-long season of special events for the whole community, supported by the NSW Government’s Blockbusters Funding initiative.

The 50th anniversary season will showcase the very best of contemporary culture from major Australian and international artists, with more than 230 performances, events and experiences presented on the Opera House’s famous sails, in its theatres, on the Forecourt and online.

Free outdoor concerts, community events, First Nations storytelling, tours, public art, exhibitions, and special resident company collaborations will encourage hundreds of thousands of people – locals and visitors from around the world – to experience the wonder of the Opera House.

“The Opera House is a gift, an immense source of pride to our community, and one of the busiest performing arts centres in the world,” said Sydney Opera House CEO Louise Herron AM.

Now, after 50 years of creativity and a decade of renewal, we’re throwing the doors open and inviting everyone to be part of a year-long festival celebrating the building, its history and all forms of contemporary culture.”

“I hope people everywhere come to experience what’s on offer and reflect on the Opera House’s past, present and future,” said Herron.

“The Opera House is a global beacon of creativity. I’m thrilled the NSW Government is supporting the 50th anniversary celebrations through a world-class program for the entire community,” said Minister for the Arts Ben Franklin MLC.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to showcase the Opera House’s immense contribution to the cultural fabric of our nation, and to attract more people from across NSW and around the world to experience this extraordinary building and all it has to offer.”

Globally-renowned future soul artist Ngaiire and musicians from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra performed a special preview at this morning’s launch event, ahead of taking to the Opera House’s spectacular outdoor stage, the Forecourt, in November 2022 as one of the first free events to kick-off the 50th program.

The first 50th anniversary line-up announced today includes:

From the Sails: Light Years and From the Steps: Voices at Dusk – The 50th anniversary year will launch with Light Years – a nightly projection on the sails from 19 – 30 October 2022. The stunning new artwork created by Sam Doust and Art Processors celebrates the story of the Opera House’s design and construction, the opening in 1973, and its ongoing contribution to the community. From 20 – 30 October 2022 at dusk, the Opera House steps will come alive with free open-air choral performances by local community choirs, curated by resident company Sydney Philharmonia Choirs’ Artistic Director Brett Weymark OAM.

From 10 – 19 November 2022, a dazzling array of contemporary music artists will take over the Opera House’s famous Forecourt, framed by the sails and the backdrop of the Harbour Bridge. Multi-hyphenate Australian superstar Tim Minchin will return for a special performance, pounding out a mega set of brilliant songs from his storied career with his 8-piece band; ARIA award-winning folk-pop star Vance Joy will perform two unforgettable shows; and New Zealand’s Fat Freddy’s Drop will deliver a massive night of soul, funk and reggae. The Forecourt series will also include two free concerts: Wanha! Journey to Arnhem – a vibrant night of Yolnu music and culture with Djakapurra Munyarryun, Dhapanbal Yunupingu, the Andrew Gurruwiwi Band and more; and for one-night-only, globally renowned, ARIA award-nominated future soul artist Ngaiire will be joined by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra for an all-out concert featuring soulful pop bangers and harmonic electro ballads fused with the symphonic sounds of the Sydney Symphony.

In the newly reopened and acoustically transformed Concert Hall, audiences will be treated to a range of world-class performances. In an Australian exclusive, acclaimed Welsh actor Michael Sheen will star in a gripping new production of Peter Shaffer’s masterpiece Amadeus this summer. The epic contemporary production combines theatre, opera and classical music with lavish costume direction by Australian fashion house Romance Was Born and designs by Anna Cordingley.

Inside/Out at the House:
From 1 – 7 May 2023, audiences are invited to join in the celebration under the sails, and the stars, for an incredible seven-day festival featuring performances by the London Symphony Orchestra, The Australian Ballet, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Each evening, a different performance will take place inside the Concert Hall or the Joan Sutherland Theatre, while also being broadcast live to the Forecourt in a stunning open-air cinema setting, for just $10.

Open House Festival – Throughout October 2023, the whole community will be invited to share in a month-long series of festivities that will take over every part of the Opera House. The series of high-profile performances, events and activities will culminate in an ‘open day’ to celebrate the Opera House’s 50th birthday in October 2023.

Sydney Theatre Company and Moogahlin Performing Arts’ The Visitors – Muruwari playwright Jane Harrison’s Sydney Theatre Award-winning play, The Visitors, will be reworked in a brand-new production directed by one of Australia’s most celebrated directors, Quandamooka man Wesley Enoch. Set on the shores of Gadigal land in January 1788, the play is both a riveting insight one of the most impactful days in Australia’s history, and a hugely entertaining study of how communities respond to the unknown.

In collaboration with Sydney WorldPride 2023, the Opera House will present Blak & Deadly: The First Nations Gala Concert – a stunning showcase of Aboriginal and Torres Strait LGBTQIA+ artistry in a concert featuring traditional song, comedy, pop and ballroom.

Presented across two nights in the Concert Hall in August 2023 by Opera Australia, renowned German operatic tenor Jonas Kaufmann will perform with an international cast in La Gioconda.

Mad Scenes by Jessica Pratt – Hailed by The New York Times as a soprano of “gleaming sound … and lyrical grace”, Australia’s Jessica Pratt will perform a one-night-only showcase of ‘mad scenes’ – a dramatic, heartbreaking and impressive concert, accompanied by the Opera Australia Orchestra in the Concert Hall in August 2023.

Opera House resident company Bangarra Dance Theatre will present a world premiere by incoming Artistic Director Frances Rings. The production, which will be announced soon, will be staged in the Drama Theatre from June 2023.

Sydney Dance Company, who performed at the Opera House’s opening in 1973, will present a thrilling triple-bill season of works by renowned Australian and International contemporary choreographers.

The Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir (CAAWC) – The 35-strong CAAWC is a tour dé force comprised of Song Women from six remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory. On 15 December 2022, they will take over the Concert Hall with their stirring harmonies, German sacred poetry and 60,000-year-old continuously spoken languages.

From early next year, revamped Opera House tours will reveal unforgettable past performances and special historic moments. The tour will feature a new film in the Opera House’s purpose-built venue that boasts state-of-the-art technology including 270-degree visuals and surround sound, as well as heritage-inspired interiors.

Ahead of its 50th year, the Opera House welcomed cameras behind-the-scenes to reveal what it takes to run one of the world’s busiest and most iconic performing arts centres. The new three-part series Inside the Sydney Opera House will premiere on ABC TV and ABC iview on 23 October at 7.30pm.

More free and ticketed events will be announced in coming months, including a new birthday themed tour for kids, dining experiences, exhibitions and a landmark First Nations artwork that will transform the Opera House precinct in October 2023.

For more information about Sydney Opera House’s 50th anniversary program, visit: for details.

Image: From the Sails: Light Years (render) – courtesy of Sydney Opera House