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Sydney Opera House

  • Theatre
  • Sydney
Photograph: Hamilton Lund

Time Out says

One of the most photographed and famous (if controversial) performing arts venues in the world

This Australian icon sits on Bennelong Point and is Sydney’s premiere venue for classical and contemporary music, opera, theatre and dance. As peaceful as it looks now, the House had a controversial beginning: while it was designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, by the time the building was completed in 1973 its architect had been fired.

Many have pondered the building’s design over the years, comparing it variously to shells, waves and even a family of swans. Utzon never revealed his vision, only that it involved spheres.

The Opera House offers different tours that allow you to get intimate with the building, including some hosted in different languages and full ‘experience' packages. If you don't feel like shelling out, it's still free to sit on the steps for a quick lunch and walk by the water and gaze in marvel at those 1,056,000 pearly, self-cleaning Swedish tiles.

Where to eat and drink near Sydney Opera House

For the ultimate Opera House dining experience, book a pre-theatre dinner at Bennelong, or just pop in for a drink and a snack at the raw and cultured bar. Check out the Opera Kitchen, a harbourfront dining area that features a host of Sydney food identities including John Susman. Meander around to Bulletin Place for cocktails. Later in the evening kick the glamour up a notch at Hemmesphere and enjoy matched cigars and more cocktails into the morning.

Backstage tour

With access into areas normally reserved for stars and their minders, this tour will have you treading the boards of its illustrious stages and sneaking into the dressing rooms of the Opera and Drama Theatres, Playhouse and The Studio, while you are regaled with the secrets and stories that go on behind the curtain. Or perhaps you want to take on the conductor's baton in the Opera Theatre orchestra pit? Do note, though, that the Concert Hall is currently closed for renewal works to improve theatre machinery, acoustics and accessibility, so no peeking in there. 

Backstage tours run daily at 7am and are $175, including a hearty breakfast served in the Green Room (the Green Room is not open on Sun or public holidays). Flat, enclosed rubber soled shoes must be worn. For safety reasons children 12 years and under are not permitted. Bookings essential. There are also junior tours of the Opera House for kids.


Bennelong Point
Opening hours:
Box office: Mon-Sat 9am-8.30pm; Sun two hours prior to performance (in person only)

What’s on

Miss Saigon

  • Musicals

Cameron Mackintosh’s award-winning production of Boublil and Schönberg’s Miss Saigon is set to opened at the Sydney Opera House in August 2023, in partnership with Opera Australia.  Inspired by the 1904 opera Madama Butterfly – which Opera Australia brought back to Handa Opera on the Harbour in March to critical acclaim – Miss Saigon has become one of the most successful musicals in history since its premiere in London in 1989. The original Broadway production of Miss Saigon opened in 1991 and went on to play for nearly ten years. While this technically spectacular production showcases a talented cast, this popular musical has a complicated legacy that can be difficult to reckon with. Read our three-star review to learn more. Miss Saigon tells the story of a young Vietnamese woman named Kim, who is orphaned by war and forced to work in a bar run by a notorious character known as the Engineer. There she meets and falls in love with an American G.I. named Chris, but they're torn apart by the fall of Saigon. For three years, Kim goes on an epic journey of survival to find her way back to Chris, who has no idea he's fathered a son. The new production is a stunning spectacle, with the cast of 42 performing the soaring score, including Broadway hits like ‘The Heat is On in Saigon,’ ‘The Movie in My Mind,’ ‘Last Night of the World’ and ‘American Dream.’  Young Australian singer Abigail Adriano will make her mainstage lead debut in the coveted role of Kim. Of the hundreds of audition

Miss Saigon review

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Musicals

From the moment it was announced that Opera Australia was bringing Cameron Mackintosh’s 2014 West End revival of Miss Saigon to Australia, there has been considerable discourse in the theatre community. The criticism was to be expected – the controversy has its own Wikipedia page – and the musical has a complicated legacy.  Set towards the end of the Vietnam war, the story follows Kim (Abigail Adriano), a recently orphaned teenager taken in by a hustling brothel-owner known only as The Engineer (Seann Miley Moore). On her first night as a sex worker her services are offered to soft-spoken American GI Chris (Nigel Huckle) as an “almost virgin”. Unexpectedly, they fall in love – but a misunderstanding leads Chris to break his promise of taking Kim to America when US forces are pulled out of the country. Kim is left in Vietnam to await Chris’s return and care for their son, whom Chris is unaware even exists. Ultimately, she gives up her child, believing that only America can give him a life worth living. This production is a visual delight offering strong performances that are sure to make these actors stars... If the story sounds familiar, it’s because it’s based on Puccini’s equally controversial 1904 opera, Madama Butterfly (which Opera Australia also recently staged on Sydney Harbour to critical acclaim). Created by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, who are predominantly known for Les Misérables, Miss Saigon debuted on the West End in 1989. With its tragic, doomed l


  • Performance art

The Sydney Opera House is turning 50 and she doesn’t look a day over 49. The iconic harbourside venue is celebrating the big milestone by giving back, and we are truly thankful. 50/50 is a new program that will feature 50 films pulled from the Opera House’s impressive archival back catalogue of concerts and performances, free to stream for all to enjoy. 50 films streaming for 50 days to celebrate 50 years has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? The carefully curated line-up will feature documentaries, performances, discussions and livestreams that were filmed at the Sydney Opera House since 1973. The footage will showcase moments over the past 50 years including performances like Gurrumul’s moving show with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 2014, Stephen Hawking’s thought-provoking appearance in 2015 and Stepping Out, an award-winning Aussie documentary from 1980 which follows the lives of a group of disabled actors preparing to perform at the Sydney Opera House. In a statement released by the Sydney Opera House, head of screen, Stuart Buchanan said the curation of such a big program has shown how important the venue has been in facilitating a thriving arts and culture scene in Australia’s history. “Curating a highlights reel for anyone’s birthday can be tricky, but capturing the incredible presence and memory of the Sydney Opera House across five decades of history has been no mean feat for the team,” he said.  “Searching the archives has been a wonderful adventure, finding

The Visitors

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Drama

Visitors are meant to leave. Right? The premiere of Jane Harrison’s The Visitors at the Sydney Opera House marks the second rendition of the acclaimed play since its smash-hit debut at Sydney Festival in early 2020. The performance, directed by the legendary Wesley Enoch and produced by Moogahlin Performing Arts and Sydney Theatre Company, is a fantastically critical and speculative historical fiction that leaves you inspired and hopeful. Harrison’s play is set in 1788, where seven Elders from each respective nation across the region we now know as Sydney gather to discuss the looming nawees (the First Fleet) sailing towards the Eora nation (Botany Bay). The play focuses on the discussions within that meeting, and explores the varied suggestions for what to do about the strange boats heading closer towards their shore.  ...this play humanises history and recenters Indigenous presence and engagement, simultaneously in the past and for the future. The premise is simple: how do we come to an agreement about understanding the unknown? Each character represented provides dimension into what becomes a very difficult question to resolve. Both Harrison’s meticulous dialogue and the deeply considered character development of each Elder adds colour and complexity to this question. It is very easy for performances about historically marginalised and colonised groups to become patronising or dogmatic parables – this production completely evades such superficial discussions, executing a p

Delta Goodrem

We know, we know – it’s hard to believe that Australia’s very own sweetheart, Delta Goodrem, has been belting out power ballads and catchy dancefloor bangers for almost two decades now. And now, in a classic ‘where have the years gone’ moment, Goodrem’s record-breaking debut album is about to turn 20, and she’s hitting the road for a string of intimate tours to celebrate.  Innocent Eyes spent an unprecedented 29 weeks at No. 1 on the Aria Albums Chart back in 2003, making it the highest-selling debut album in Australian history. Goodrem was also the first-ever artist to have five No. 1 singles on the charts from a debut album, and she won the Highest Selling Album Award at the Aria Awards two years running. The exclusive anniversary tour will commence on September 25, 2023, at the Opera House in Sydney, where she will perform Innocent Eyes in its entirety, including the hits ‘Born To Try’, ‘Lost Without You’, ‘Predictable’ and ‘Not Me, Not I’, all before travelling to Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane.  “I feel so grateful to have had all the opportunities this album has brought in my life and all the incredible people that took me into their homes with this album and who have been on this journey with me," says Goodrem. "This is going to be a wonderful night together of music and storytelling celebrating the album that changed my life.” Fan Club and TEG Live pre-sales commence at 9am on Wednesday, November 16 via Goodrem's official website. General public tickets go

Sydney Opera House 50th Birthday Festival

Sydney’s favourite house is turning the big five-oh this October, and they’ve just announced the program for their month-long birthday extravaganza. From September 28 to October 31, there’ll be free community events, world premieres, contemporary performances, family-friendly shows and stunning public art at and around the Sydney Opera House. The festival will launch with immersive sculptures by Quandamooka artist Megan Cope, who’s using tens of thousands of kinyingarra (oyster in Jandai language) shells to create a thought-provoking public artwork that will “connect the Opera House with Land, Sky and Sea Country through a First Nations lens”. The Opera House will open its doors to the public for its first open day in eight years, welcoming thousands of visitors behind-the-scenes for the Open House Weekend, which involves two big days of FREE events on October 21 and 22. Visitors will get unprecedented access to the Opera House’s seven performance spaces, including the world-famous Concert Hall, roving performances by local artists, special exhibits by the Opera House’s resident companies, First Nations dance performances by Bangarra Dance Theatre and Mornington Island Dancers, and technical demonstrations by the Opera House’s production team. Entry is free but you must register for tickets to secure entry. The Opera House’s harbourside dining venues, Opera Bar and House Canteen, will also join the birthday celebrations with a special Gold Party from Oct 20-22. It wouldn't be

Birds of Tokyo and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra present Birdsongs

  • Rock and indie

Get ready to shake your tail feathers because one of Australia’s most successful contemporary rock bands, Birds of Tokyo, is coming to Sydney. The band is teaming up with the prestigious Sydney Symphony Orchestra for Birdsongs, an electrifying concert experience in the grand Concert Hall at Sydney Opera House from September 28-30. Birds of Tokyo are Australian rock royalty. Since forming in Perth almost 20 years ago, the band has won fans all over the country with their rich sonic textures, soaring vocals and thoughtful lyrics. Across six studio albums they’ve taken home two ARIA Awards and six APRA Awards, hit number one on singles and album charts and hit number four in the Triple J Hottest 100. However, it’s the band’s concerts where the real magic happens. Birds of Tokyo have a reputation as one of Australia’s great live bands for good reason – they’ve headlined the 2021 AFL Grand Final, Splendour in the Grass and Falls Festival, just to name a few. They’ve also toured with Muse, Midnight Oil and Cold Chisel, as well as selling out venues across the country on their own headline tours. In 2021 they collaborated with all of Australia’s major symphony orchestras, captivating audiences with fully orchestrated renditions of their greatest hits including ‘Plans,’ ‘Lanterns,’ ‘Good Lord’,and ‘Anchor’.  Now, in 2023, Birds of Tokyo spread their wings even further with a new symphony orchestra concert. Birdsongs will see the band team up with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra for an

Bell Shakespeare presents Twelfth Night

As the world commemorates the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's most musical play, Twelfth Night, theatre enthusiasts are in for a treat with Heather Fairbairn's fresh retelling of the timeless romantic comedy. The new theatre production will arrive at Sydney Opera House as part of Bell Shakespeare’s grand Australian tour from October 26 to November 19, bringing with it a stellar ensemble and six new songs by ARIA-winning musician Sarah Blasko.  Twelfth Night invites audiences into a dark yet enchanting garden setting, where hidden identities and unrequited love collide. Determined to survive in this strange land, the protagonist, Viola, disguises herself as a man named Cesario and finds work with Duke Orsino, only to fall head over heels in love with him. But Orsino is in love with Olivia, who – grieving for her brother – refuses all offers of romance. You’ll be swept up in this whirlwind of passion and encouraged to search for light in the darkness as the plot unfolds. Director Heather Fairbairn said, “I’m fascinated by the enigmatic nature of Twelfth Night, or What You Will, a play that asks more questions than it answers. Designer Charles Davis and I embraced this ambiguity, purposefully positioning the action in no fixed place at no fixed time. Sarah Blasko's melancholic yet genre-defying music sits perfectly within this a-historical nowhere.”  Twelfth Night features a talented cast including Jane Montgomery Griffiths (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Titus Andronicus), Keith

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