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Sydney Opera House announces 45th anniversary program

September 13, 2018 Events / Whats On No Comments Email Email

The Sydney Opera House today revealed an inspiring program of activities beginning on Saturday 13 October 2018 to mark its 45th anniversary and the centenary of architect Jørn Utzon’s birth.

The program, which celebrates the enduring creative bond between Australia and Denmark, will feature:

  • The world premiere of a documentary, Jørn Utzon: The Man & The Architect, on Utzon’s life and work;
  • Horisont, a major new international exhibition curated by Denmark’s Utzon Centre;
  • A panel discussion on Utzon’s legacy with outstanding emerging Danish architects;
  • Free and fun hands-on activities for children to explore Utzon’s design principles; and
  • Scenes from a Marriage, a remarkable stage adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s classic television series, presented by the Royal Danish Theatre.

Opened by His Royal Highness the Crown Prince of Denmark in Aalborg, Denmark earlier this year, Horisont features excerpts from Utzon’s personal diaries, along with photographs, drawings and video footage from his archives. This stirring exhibition explores more than four decades of the architect’s global travels and reveals the extent to which diverse regions, cultures and traditions inspired and broadened Utzon’s horizons.

The 45th anniversary marks the mid-point in a Decade of Renewal, a $273 million program of building works launched in 2013, to ensure the Opera House continues to inspire future generations of artists, audiences and visitors. The Renewal program is well under way, including last year’s successful upgrade and reopening of the Joan Sutherland Theatre and a new Function Centre due to open in early 2019. The focus is now on essential acoustic, accessibility, functionality and safety upgrades to the much-loved Concert Hall and a new Creative Learning Centre for young people and families.

Sydney Opera House CEO Louise Herron AM said: “It is fitting that on the 45th anniversary of the Opera House, and in the centenary year of Jørn Utzon’s birth, we pay tribute to the man who conceived this remarkable building, whose uncompromising standards led to its creation and whose legacy cannot be overestimated.”

The NSW Minister for the Arts, Don Harwin, said: “Forty-five years on, the Sydney Opera House continues to play a leading role in Australia’s identity and culture. The NSW Government’s $228 million investment in the Opera House’s renewal will ensure that the building and the performing arts presented under its iconic sails will engage and inspire future generations. This is the largest investment in our State’s most significant cultural and tourism asset since the Opera House opened in 1973, and will open up more of this wonderful building to the public.”

The Opera House’s 45th anniversary falls on 20 October 2018 and Jørn Utzon’s centenary was on 9 April 2018. The full list of activities for the Anniversary program includes:


  • Utzon100: Next Generation – A panel of outstanding emerging and established Danish architects will explore how Utzon’s legacy continues to influence global architecture today and shapes their own practices.

International Theatre

  • Scenes from a Marriage – Presented by the Royal Danish Theatre, this Danish play stars acclaimed Danish actors Stine Stengade and Morten Kirkskov. Originally a groundbreaking Swedish television miniseries by the great auteur Ingmar Bergman, this riveting play delves beneath the façade of a once happy marriage to reveal a battlefield of victories and defeat, happiness and turmoil, tenderness and rage.

Children and Families Workshops

  • Utzon’s Universe Children’s Workshops – Staffed by artists and educators, this series of free interactive hands-on workshops explore Utzon’s design principles through making mini models and daring constructions involving the whole family.

Documentary world premiere

  • Jørn Utzon: The Man & The Architect – This Danish documentary tells the story of Utzon’s unique architectural talent through the people who were closest to him: his children, close colleagues and friends, who share their open, honest anecdotes and experiences of the man as an architect and father. This film is a portrait of a devoted humanitarian and a sensitive and loving soul. This documentary has been realised with the eternal support of the love of his life, Lis.


  • Horisont – Curated by the Utzon Center, Denmark, this important exhibition explores and celebrates Utzon’s work and life, tracing his inspiration spanning four decades of his global travels including China, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Morocco, Mexico and the United States.

The Sydney Opera House’s 45 year anniversary program is enabled through the generous support of Michael and Manuela Darling.

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