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Sydney Opera House History 1982 -1989

1982 - 1989 History

1982 - 1989 History

1984 (20 October)

Sydney Opera House celebrates its 10th Anniversary

The 10th Anniversary celebrations reach their peak in October when the Trust, in association with Musica Viva Australia presents the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, and the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields.

To celebrate the 10th birthday on 20 October, 1983, the ABC broadcasts a day-long series of FM radio programs about the history and personalities of Sydney Opera House and presents a concert featuring the famous English mezzo-soprano, Janet Baker with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

There are a significant number of events staged during the hectic and exciting days of October. On the evening of 20 October, the Trust gives a 10th Anniversary Cocktail party for 400 friends of the House. The Guest of Honour, Jill Wran, speaks about Sydney Opera House and its significant relationship with the people of Australia. Mrs Wran observes, “Only in Australia is our greatest building a monument to the arts - to human creativity and imagination.”


Jørn Utzon is made a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) (Honorary Award) for achievements in the field of Architecture.


Work starts to transform the Forecourt

When Jørn Utzon submitted the designs for Sydney Opera House, he envisaged an open plaza leading up to the main flight of steps. It was to provide an unobstructed view of his soaring architectural concept and give it the space to make an unchallenged impact on the environment of the Sydney Harbour.

For the first 12 years of its operations, however, the Forecourt was a rambling car park – never open to the public and an eyesore in aesthetic terms.

In 1986, the first major steps of a far-reaching transformation takes place as part of the NSW Government’s Bicentennial project.  This gives Sydney Opera House an approach worthy of its spectacular architecture. Parked cars are banished from the Forecourt. A second promenade, containing shops, a cafe and an information centre is constructed below the existing level, giving pedestrians cover from the weather without disturbing the vista from any direction.

Granite cobblestones fan out over the upper level in an unobtrusively decorative way and result in a handsome new perspective at Sydney Opera House. The project is managed by the Public Works Department, John Holland Constructions Pty Ltd, Ove Arup and Partners on behalf of the Government Architect Andrew Andersons and Peter Hall.

The cost of the project is around $24 million. It includes the construction of a new sea wall and the two level structure which allows pedestrians to approach the building at water level.


Lin Utzon unveils geometric plaque in Forecourt podium

Jørn Utzon’s daughter, Lin, unveils a geometric plaque in the Forecourt podium. 

Jørn Utzon lets the Trust know he was very pleased “that the Government has decided to finish the Forecourt as the originally planned open plaza.”


Scissor lifts installed in Concert Hall

The installation of hydraulic scissor lifts under the Concert Hall stage proves quickly to be a good investment. They replace the “podest” rostrums which had to be brought from their storage area to the concert platform. This process used to take, on average, a stage crew of eight people one hour to set up and 45 minutes to strike. With the new scissors platforms, it takes two stage technicians 10 minutes to set up and five minutes to strike.


His Holiness, Pope John Paul II addresses assembly in Concert Hall

His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, addresses an assembly of the religious in the Concert Hall, and meets with management, the media and the public assembled on the Monumental Steps.


Sydney Opera House announces Major Maintenance Program

Sydney Opera House Major Maintenance Program launches as 10-year program with 650 projects relating to the structural and architectural fabric of the building, the services within the building and the technical stage services.

The program is designed to redress rule of thumb calculation for general building maintenance expenditure and to raise the level to the more commercially acceptable level of maintenance funding of 1-2% of asset value.

1988 (26 January)

Sydney Opera House venue for Bicentennial Australia Day

A late decision by the NSW Government to convene the Australia Day ceremony on the Sydney Opera House Forecourt precipitates a mammoth exercise in preparation over 15 weeks. Between the breakfast party for invited guests and the spectacular fireworks display at night, the range of events include the formal commemoration with the Prince and Princess of Wales, the Bicentennial Wool Collection fashion event, outdoor concerts with orchestra and chorus, jazz bands, pop groups and, on the harbour, a magnificent parade of Tall Ships. This marks the beginning of a much higher focus on civic celebrations for Australia Day on the day itself.

1989 (1 May)

Elizabeth Butcher, AM, starts her tenure as Chairman of the Sydney Opera House Trust.

Image credit: Arup


HE – His/Her Excellency
HRH – His/Her Royal Highness
TRH – Their Royal Highnesses


His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden
His Imperial Highness Prince Yoshihito of Mikasa of Japan
Mr George Bush, Vice-President of the United States of America
Mr Konstantinos Karamanlis, President of Greece


TRH the Prince & Princess of Wales


HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhornv of Thailand


Their Excellencies Sir Kingsford Dibela GCME K St J, Gov-Gen of Papua New Guinea & Lady Dibels
Dr Patrick John Hillery, President of the Republic of Ireland
Their Majesties the King & Queen of Nepal, Princess Sherada & Mr Kumar Shah, Foreign Minister of Nepal
Mr George Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood, KBE & Patricia, Countess of Harewood (Former GM of Royal Opera Covent Garden)
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh


Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II & HRH the Duke of Edinburgh
HE Mr Shinyong Lho, Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea
His Holiness Pope John Paul II
HRH Puanku Putra, King of Malaysia (Ruler of Perlis Malaysia)


His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan IV
Her Majesty Queen Margarethe II of Denmark, HRH the Prince Consort Prince Henrik & HRH Prince Joachim
His Majesty King Bedouin I & Her Majesty Queen Fabiola of the Belgians
His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, Patriach of Alexandria
Their Excellencies Sir Baddeley Devesi, GCMG GCVO Governor-General of the Solomon Islands and Lady Devesi


TRH the Prince & Princess of Wales
HE Hon Francesco Cossiga, President of Italy
HRH Prince Tupouto’a, Crown Prince of Tonga
Her Majesty Queen Beatrix & HRH Prince Claus of the Netherlands
HE  Mr Li Peng, Premier, State Council of People’s Republic of China
HRH Prince Andrew


Mr Dan Quayle, Vice President of the Unites States of America
HRH Princess Benedikte of Denmark

Image credit: Arup

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