Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House stands on what was originally a tidal island on the east bank of Sydney Cove, known to the Gadigal people as Tubowgule. Records in the State Archives Collection cover all aspects of the Sydney Opera House, from design and planning, construction, contracts and specifications, the official opening and later productions, and the management of the House.

Fort Macquarie, a man stand at boats moored in front of the building

Fort Macquarie, Bennelong Point

Fort Macquarie was constructed between 1817-1821 and demolished in 1901. The Tram Depot was opened in 1902 and pulled down in 1958 to make way for the building of the Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House drawings

An International Competition for the design of a National Opera House at Bennelong Point was held in 1956. We hold the original drawings submitted by Jørn Utzon and other competition records

The Sydney Opera House Books

Significant publications and reports on the Sydney Opera House project, including the rules for the design competition, plans, drawings and photographs at various stages of the construction

Government Printing Office 2 - 29953 - Opera House from Unilever Building [Sydney Opera House (N.S.W.); building construction] [GPO original locations or series - unnumbered] [4/03/1966]

Sydney Opera House construction

We hold records relating to the construction of Sydney Opera House including the stages of construction, who was who, correspondence, plans, contracts, accounting records and more

Screenshot of typed minute paper dated 21 Dec 1954

Sydney Opera House - Minutes

We hold minutes from the Opera House Committee to the later Sydney Opera House Trust, covering planning, construction, administration and management of the House

Photo of Jørn Utzon in 1959

Utzon v the Minister

After the election of a new Liberal government in 1965, control over payments for the Opera House project was transferred from the Opera House Committee to the Minster of Public Works

Fireworks above the Opera House on the night of the official opening, before the commencement of the opening concert. October 20th 1973.

Opening of the Sydney Opera House

The Opera House was officially opened by Her Majesty the Queen on 20 October 1973. This was followed by a two-week festival of events

Government Printing Office 2 - 08376 - Opera House Committee at Public Works Building [Department of Local Government; interiors; architects; public servants] [GPO original locations or series - 47927] [11/1/1957]

Management of the Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House Trust operates and maintains the Opera House on behalf of the NSW Government

Government Printing Office 3 - 20815 - First live concert in the Sydney Opera House for the purpose of testing the acoustics [Public Works; concert halls] [17/12/1972]

Productions & performances held at the Sydney Opera House

We hold records of productions and performances held at the Sydney Opera House

Government Printing Office 2 - 49270 - Sydney Opera House [Public Works] [GPO original locations or series - St89262] [Jun-73]

Photographs and oral histories of Sydney Opera House

There are many images of the Sydney Opera House in all stages of construction and use in the State Archives Collection.

Watch the webinar

Sydney Opera House program for the performance of The Magic Flute

Sydney Opera House: Programs in the Spotlight

Our exhibition: The People’s House – The Sydney Opera House at 50 features dozens of programs from the State Archive collection. Join exhibition curator Dr Scott Hill as we dive into an intriguing archive

The sacred veil, 2022. Sydney Philharmonia Choirs.

The People’s House: audio interviews

Hear from former staff, creatives and performers about their most cherished memories of the iconic building

Harold Blair sings at a piano played by Marjorie Lawrence

Paving the way ... Harold Blair: The first Aboriginal opera singer

A short documentary that offers a glimpse into the life of Harold Blair, a world-renowned tenor, family man and political campaigner who sought social justice and human rights for Australia’s First Nations people

A Sepik River mei mask

An eye-catching object in the People’s House: Sydney Opera House at 50 exhibition reveals an unexpected story of the opening ceremonies, of performance, and of international diplomacy

Past exhibition

The People’s House: Sydney Opera House at 50

Celebrating five decades of extraordinary performances and unforgettable moments from the Sydney Opera House