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Sydney Opera House History 1998 - 2003

1998 - 2003 History

1998 - 2003 History

1998 (20 October)

Sydney Opera House celebrates 25th birthday

The month-long 25th birthday celebrations in October attract more than 85,000 people to Sydney Opera House.

At the heart of celebrations is the ‘Open House’ event that threw open the doors to welcome Sydneysiders and visitors to a day of discovery packed with free entertainment, activities and tours.

1998 (March)

Michael Lynch, AM, begins his tenure as Chief Executive of Sydney Opera House.

1998 (6 April)

Utzon awarded ‘Keys to City’

Councillor Frank Sartor, the Mayor of Sydney, announces that Utzon has accepted the award of ‘the Keys of the City of Sydney.'

1998 (17 April)

Utzon awarded Denmark’s prestigious Sonning Prize

Utzon is awarded Denmark’s prestigious Sonning Prize for ‘an outstanding contribution toward the advancement of European Civilisation.'

1999 (1 August)

Utzon re-engaged as design consultant

Utzon is re-engaged as design consultant, working from Denmark through his son Jan and Sydney architect Richard Johnson, to develop a set of design principles for use as a reference point in all future development of the building and the site. These design principles aim to ensure that the character, quality and significance of Sydney Opera House is maintained and improved into the new millennium.

Utzon wrote in the foreword of ‘Building a masterpiece: the Sydney Opera House’, “My renewed contact with Sydney and my work with the refurbishment of the Opera House - brought about by the Sydney Opera House Trust and the Government of NSW under the administration of the then Premier, Bob Carr - has felt like a wonderful welcome back to Australia, a hand extended in the spirit of reconciliation, a hand I shake with warmth and gratitude.”


The Hon Bob Carr, NSW Premier opens The Studio - a refurbished venue for contemporary theatre

Formerly the recording hall, The Studio is a flexible performing space that can accommodate performances varying from spoken word to contemporary music, opening up an exciting range of opportunities for innovative performances.

2000 (15 September)

The Opening Ceremony of the Sydney Olympics

At dusk, swimmer Samantha Riley stands on top of the north apex of the Concert Hall arc of the Sydney Opera House roof and holds the torch aloft on the final leg of the flame’s journey to Stadium Australia for the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

A month before the Opening Ceremony, the Olympic Arts Festival opens with Opera Australia’s production of Don Giovanni by Mozart.

2002 (1 May)

Sydney Opera House releases Utzon Design Principles

Sydney Opera House releases ‘Utzon Design Principles’ as a permanent reference for the long-term management and conservation of the building.

2002 (September)

Dr Norman Gillespie begins his tenure as Chief Executive of Sydney Opera House.

2003 (1 April)

Utzon awarded Pritzker Prize

Jørn Utzon is awarded the prestigious international Pritzker Prize for architecture in April, accepted by his son Jan in Madrid, and the building receives citation as a masterpiece of the twentieth century.

2003 (18 March)

Protesters paint ‘No War’ on the sails

Two protesters against Australia’s involvement in the Iraq war use paving paint to write the slogan ‘No War’ on the main sail of the Concert Hall. Jailed for their actions they later stated that they had been prepared to commit an offence to prevent a ‘greater crime’.

2003 (20 October)

Sydney Opera House celebrates its 30th birthday

Sydney Opera House celebrates its 30th birthday with a spectacular concert that uses symphony, opera, jazz, dance and multimedia projections.  The program includes a world premiere performance of Meryl Tankard’s Pearl and the Sydney Symphony’s performance of works by some of Australia’s most illustrious composers and librettists.

2003 (3 December)

Sydney Opera House listed on State Heritage Register

Sydney Opera House is listed on the State Heritage Register following the completion of a comprehensive Conservation Plan.


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


HE Dr Kahaled Ibn Muhammed Al-Ankary, Minister for Higher Education, Saudi Arabia
Hon Madeleine K Albright, Secretary of State, the United States of America
Hon Mr William Cohen, Secretary of Defence, United States of America
Mrs Mary McAleese, President of the Republic of Ireland
HE Mr Wei Jianxing, Member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo, Member of the Secretariat CPC Central Committee of the People’s Republic of China
Hon Rodolfo Severino, Secretary General, ASEAN
HE Prof Evangelos Venizelos, Minister of Culture, Greece


HE Mr Árpád Göncz, President of the Republic of Hungary
Ms Mary Harney, Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister of Ireland) and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Ireland


HE Mr Kofi Annan, Secretary General, United Nations
Mr Bernie Ahern, Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of the Republic of Ireland
Her Serene Highness Princess Siriwanwaree Mahidol of Thailand
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II & HRH the Duke of Edinburgh
HE Mr Sun Jiazheng, Minister of Culture, People's Republic of China
HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and HRH Princess Ubolratana of Thailand
US Presidential Delegation: Hon Donna Shalala, Secretary of Health & Human Services; HE Mr Edward Gnehm, Jnr, US Ambassador to Australia; Hon Thurgood Marshall, Jnr, Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary; Ms Chelsea Clinton; Mr Dan Cacey, President’s Council on Physical Fitness; Mr David Hohman, Director, Office of International Affairs, Health and Human Services
HRH Prince Frederik of Denmark (Crown Prince), HRH Prince Joachim of Denmark, HRH Princess Benedikte of Denmark, HRH Princess Natalie, HRH Princess Martha Louise of Norway
Rt Hon Helen Clark, MP, Prime Minister of New Zealand
His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustav of Norway


HE Dr Jorge Sampaio, President of the Republic of Portugal
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
HE Mr Li Peng, Chairman, Standing Committee, National People’s Congress of China, People's Republic of China


Mr Christopher Reeve, actor and Mrs Dana Reeve of the United States of America
Mr Jan Kavan, President of the 57th Session of the General Assembly, United Nations
HE Lyonpo Jigmi Thinley, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Bhutan
Mr Liu, Minister of Propaganda, People's Republic of China
The Hon Yashwant Sinha, Minister of External Affairs, The Republic of India
HRH the Princess Royal (Anne)
Hon Pehin Dato Haji Hussain, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Brunei Darussalam
HE Mrs Mary McAleese, President of the Republic of Ireland
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