The Sydney Opera House has unveiled a program of 50 films, many rare and unseen, available free of charge to audiences everywhere as part of its 50th birthday celebrations.
50/50 delves into the Opera House’s extraordinary archive to showcase iconic performances, documentaries, discussions and livestreams across 50 consecutive days from 3 September to 22 October 2023.
‘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,’ says Sydney Opera House’s Head of Screen, Stuart Buchanan.
‘Searching the archives has been a wonderful adventure, finding long-forgotten gems and watching the impact and culture of the House evolve in front of your eyes.’
The program highlights some of the iconic artists, thinkers and performers that have shaped the cultural landscape since the Opera House opened in 1973, including Opera Australia, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Gurrumul, Dame Joan Sutherland, Peter Allen, Iggy Pop, Stephen Hawking, José González, Bangarra Dance Theatre, London Symphony Orchestra, Sampa the Great, Khruangbin, Violent Femmes, Sydney Dance Company, The National, Shaun Parker, Steve Reich, Icehouse, Vance Joy and Pussy Riot, as well as six rare documentaries exploring the history and evolution of the Opera House across the decades.
Highlights of the program:
- Gala Opening Concert with Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Opera Australia – War and Peace (1973) – pulled from the vaults of the ABC and Opera Australia, the program opens with rare recordings of the first two performances staged at the Opera House, by two of its enduring resident companies.
- Gurrumul (2014) – in a performance with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra recorded live on Gadigal land, Gurrumul expresses his Yolŋu culture through songs and stories, including introductions from family members.
- Iggy Pop (2019) – the night the godfather of punk lit up the Opera House with songs from seminal albums Lust For Life, The Idiot and many more.
- Peter Allen (1977) – a rare performance, Allen’s first at the Opera House, including songs such as ‘I Go To Rio’ and the Grammy Award-winning ‘I Honestly Love You’.
- Bangarra Dance Theatre, Yuldea (2023) – the streaming premiere of the first work presented by Frances Rings as Artistic Director, a ceremonial affirmation of history and heritage.
- The Fifth Façade – the Making of the Sydney Opera House (1973) – Opera House architect Jørn Utzon offers insights into his vision and the problems he needed to solve to bring it to life.
- London Symphony Orchestra (2023) – a return to the Concert Hall by one of the world’s greatest orchestras, led by the revered Sir Simon Rattle in his final Australia appearance with the orchestra.
- An Evening with Stephen Hawking (2015) – in a world first, physicist and cosmologist Professor Stephen Hawking joined audiences in the Concert Hall via hologram technology, discussing growing up in postwar Britain, his years at university and the cosmological effect of Zayn leaving One Direction.
- Stepping Out (1980) – one of the most awarded documentaries in Australian history, Stepping Out explores the lives of a theatre group of people with disability as they prepare for their first public performance at the Opera House.
- Steve Reich (2012) – made during a rare visit to Australia by Reich, this film features a program of the composer’s most beloved and defining works.
To browse the full program and start streaming, head to the Sydney Opera House website.