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Sydney Opera House History 1990 - 1997

1990 - 1997 History

1990 - 1997 History


Final performance of Dame Joan Sutherland in Les Huguenots

After dominating the international opera stage for more than 30 years, La Stupenda, as Australia’s Dame Joan Sutherland is affectionately known, takes her historic final bow in a gala farewell performance of Les Huguenots at Sydney Opera House.

1992 (1 August)

Jørn Utzon wins Wolf Foundation Prize

Jørn Utzon is awarded the Wolf Foundation Prize in Arts (Architecture), recognising 'qualities existing well beyond the range of passing fashion, qualities that enhance use, transform construction and liberate the mind.'


Upgrade Program Continues

The roof sails are refurbished, which involves the resealing of some 16.5km joints between the roof tile lids.

The Opera Theatre shuts from 31 October to 26 November to enable the second stage of the venue’s orchestra pit extension to be completed; the work was carried out for 24 hours a day at times. 

1993 (17 March)

Underground car-park opens

The underground car park for Sydney Opera House with a capacity of 1,100 cars is officially opened by NSW Premier and Treasurer John Fahey, at a cost exceeding $40 million.

1993 (4 March)

Bronze plaque to honour Utzon is unveiled

A bronze plaque honouring Jørn Utzon is unveiled at Sydney Opera House by his daughter Lin in the presence of Hon. Peter Collins, NSW Minister for the Arts. In correspondence between the Sydney Opera House Trust and Utzon, Utzon insisted the plaque not be about himself but should be a demonstration of the spherical solution.


Sydney Opera House establishes Conservation Council

The Sydney Opera House Conservation Council is established as a body to provide advice on the care, control and maintenance of the building. Membership includes a SOH Trustee, SOH General Manager, Government Architect, an eminent architect, and eminent engineer from private practice or academia, a nominee of the Ministry for the Arts and a member of the Sydney Opera House Executive with responsibilities for the building.

1994 (1 November)

‘Unseen Utzon’ exhibition opens

The ‘Unseen Utzon’ exhibition opens at Sydney Opera House, 1 November, presented jointly with the State Library of New South Wales and largely based on the Utzon collection.

The exhibition reveals Jørn Utzon’s designs for the interiors of the building that would have been realised if he had continued to work as Sydney Opera House architect.

The most popular exhibit was the computer modelling of the two major halls, now the Concert Hall and the Opera Theatre, created by architecture student Philip Nobis from Utzon’s concepts. Presented on a large screen, the images showcased Utzon’s designs in rich colours and decorative acoustic elements.

The designs were celebrated in a visitors’ book with comments by many of the 25,553 people who saw them. Utzon himself had the last word.  In a letter to Nobis, shown at the exhibition he wrote: “It is a long forgotten story. The important thing is that the Sydney Opera House is such a beloved building."

1995 (21 March)

Lin Utzon presents scale model

Lin Utzon presents the 1965 scale model of the Main Hall to the Sydney Opera House Trust. Lin says, on behalf of Utzon, it was “the dream that came to life."


Joseph Skrzynski, AM begins tenure as Chairman of the Sydney Opera House Trust.

1996 (1 October)

Dennis Wolanski Library closes

The Dennis Wolanski Library of the Performing Arts is closed in November and its collections are dispersed to the State Library of NSW and other organisations in Australia.

1997 (March)

Tim Jacobs begins his tenure as Chief Executive of Sydney Opera House.


NSW Government creates Sydney Opera House Masterplan

The Sydney Opera House Masterplan is prepared by the NSW Government Architect’s Office in October 1997. It includes proposed work valued at $32.5 million. Subsequently architects Denton Corker Marshall, led by Richard Johnson, are appointed to review the plan and develop architectural principles to guide future development work.

Credit: Fairfax


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


HE Mr Carlos Salinas de Gortari, President of Mexico
Hon Dr E Fenech-Adami, Prime Minister of the Republic of Malta
Mr Nelson Mandela, Deputy President, African National Congress, South Africa


Hon Mr Jim Bolger, Prime Minister of New Zealand
Mr Alexander Dubcek, Speaker, Federal Assembly of Czech & Slovak Federal Republic


Mr George Bush, President of the United States of America
Mr Maxime Korman, Prime Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu
Mrs Mary Robinson, President of the Republic of Ireland
Her Imperial Highness Princess Sayako of Japan
HRH Prince Felipe of Asturias (the Crown Prince of Spain)


Dr Klaus Kinkel, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Federal Republic of Germany
Mr Juan Antonio Samaranch, President, International Olympic Committee
HE Dr Censu Tabone, President of the Republic of Malta
Hon Mr Sergei Tereschenko, Prime Minister of Kazakhstan
Dr Richard von Weizsäcker, President of the Federal Republic of Germany
Mr Douglas Hurd, Foreign Secretary, Great Britain


HE Byong Hyong Kwon, Korean Ambassador to Australia
Professor David Luba’I, Minister for Justice, Israel


HE Mr Huang Ju, Mayor of Shanghai, People's Republic of China
Mr Willem de Klerk, Deputy President of South Africa
Their Imperial Highness Prince and Princess Akishino of Japan
Mrs Hillary Rodham Clinton, wife of the President of the United States of America
Mr Bill Clinton, President of the United States of America
HE Mr Naumoon Abdul Gayoom, President of the Maldives


HE Dr Coo Soon, Mayor of Seoul, Republic of Korea
HE Mr Sanyoto, Minister for Foreign Investments, Indonesia
HE Mr Lu Ruihua, Governor of Guangdong Province, People’s Republic of China
HE Mr Phanthong Thommahaxay, Laotian Ambassador to Australia


Mr Helmut Kohl, Chancellor, Federal Republic of Germany
Mr Wim Kok, Prime Minister of The Netherlands
His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Credit: Fairfax

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