First Stories of the House: The Life, Contribution & Legacy of Opera Singer Harold Blair AM

Nerida Blair, Kim Walker, Don Christopher, Nina Korbe, moderator: Daniel Browning

Conversation meets classical performance as we celebrate the life and contribution of Wulli Wulli tenor Harold Blair AM, the first Australian Aboriginal opera singer and performer at the House in 1973. The panel discussion will bring into focus his contribution to Australian culture, followed by a special Opera performance by Soprano and proud Koa, Kuku Yalanji, Wakka Wakka woman, Nina Korbe.

Daniel will be joined by Harold Blair’s family members along with contemporary Aboriginal opera singers and other performers inspired by Harold’s life. Staged in the Joan Sutherland Theatre – with the stunning Curtain of the Sun hanging in the background – this is an event not to miss.

Wulli Wulli tenor, Harold Blair AM was the first Australian Aboriginal person professionally trained in opera singing. He enrolled at the Melba Conservatorium in Melbourne in the mid-1940s graduating with a Diploma of Music with honours in 1949. He travelled Australia and the world performing for diverse audiences including at the Iron Curtain in West Germany in the late 1950s and Dalgerie, the first opera staged at the Sydney Opera House in July, 1973.

The discussion will cover his life, bring to light lesser-known First Nations stories of the House and examine the social and political landscape of Australia in the 1940’s-50s.


Nerida Blair
Don Christopher
Daniel Browning
Kim Walker
Nina Korbe
Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House
Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House
  • Wednesday 18 October 6pm–7.30pm
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

First Nations Speaker Series logo
Past event

Sydney Opera House at 50: Reflections on First Nations performance at the House

Celebrate 50 years of First Nations performance at the Sydney Opera House and hear how the performing arts influences critical conversations and connects audiences and creatives with culture

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

Todd Duncan (baritone) with Harold Blair, c.1950s

Harold Blair, trailblazer

Wulli Wulli tenor Harold Blair AM was Australia’s first professionally trained Aboriginal opera singer

Presented by Sydney Opera House and Museums of History NSW