The Sydney Opera House will mark its 50th anniversary in 2023 – and, fittingly for such an icon, it’s spreading its celebrations across an entire year. From October, more than 230 performances, events and experiences will be held across every part of the house, from the forecourt to its theatres, stairs and sails.
“The Opera House is a gift, an immense source of pride to our community, and one of the busiest performing arts centers in the world,” said Sydney Opera House’s CEO Louise Herron in a statement. “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.”
The celebrations kick off on October 19 with nightly projections on the building’s sails (until October 30). The projection will feature a new artwork by multi-disciplinarian Sam Doust and creative technology company Art Processors. Their work will tell the story of the Opera House’s design and construction, its opening in 1973 and its 50 years of cultural contributions. And each night at dusk from October 20 to 30, local community choirs will perform free shows on the Opera House steps.
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Comedian, musician and composer Tim Minchin will perform for one night only in November, live with an eight-piece band in the house’s forecourt, while Vance Joy is also set to play the forecourt across two nights. Other forecourt shows include New Zealand’s Fat Freddy’s Drop, soul artist Ngaire with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Wanha! Journey to Arnheman evening of Yolŋu music and culture.
Welsh actor Michael Sheen (Twilight, The Queen, Masters of Sex) will take to the stage for a production of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, a reimagining of the rivalry between composers Antonio Salieri and Mozart. Sydney fashion label Romance Was Born will design the costumes for the production. More international performers will head to the house as part of Inside/Out at the House, a seven-day festival in May, with concerts by the London Symphony Orchestra, the Australian Ballet, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and the Australian Chamber Orchestra . Each show will be broadcast live to the forecourt, where tickets will be just $10.
Sydney’s First Nations cultures and communities will play a large role in the celebrations. The Visitors, a play by Sydney Theater Company and Moogahlin Performing Arts set on Gadigal land in January 1788, will be reworked and directed by celebrated Quandamooka director Wesley Enoch. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQIA+ performers will be showcased in Blak & Deadly: The First Nations Gala Concertin partnership with Sydney World Pride 2023. And Bangarra Dance Theater will premiere a new show in the Drama Theater in June 2023.
The celebration culminates in the month-long Open House Festival in October 2023. While its program is yet to be announced, it’ll take over every part of the building with big-name performances, events and activities finishing up with an open day.
Other highlights include an Opera Australia production of La Gioconda, featuring German operatic tenor Jonas Kaufmann; a triple bill season by Sydney Dance Company; and a performance by the 35 members of the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir, which features Song Women from six remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory.
There’ll also be revamped Opera House tours, and more free and ticketed events are set to be announced in the coming months.
The Sydney Opera House’s 50th anniversary celebrations run from October 19, 2022 to the end of October 2023.