Skip to main content

Main navigation

Annual Report 2022-23

It was a Wednesday evening in October 2022, shortly after the sun had gone down over Sydney Harbour, when an unlikely cultural experiment appeared on the Opera House sails. The city looked up to a story about community, culture and connection. 

There were construction workers and conductors, royal visitors and dancers. There were pop stars and politicians and opera singers and architects and breathtaking moments of performance worthy of this masterpiece of human creativity. The premiere of this new audiovisual experience, projected on to the building itself, kicked off the countdown to our 50th birthday. From the Sails: Light Years told the story of the Opera House over five decades, from construction to the present day. It celebrated some of the people who have brought the building to life and marked the official start of our program –  a year-long series of events culminating in the Birthday Festival in October 2023.  

Supported by the NSW Government through the Create NSW Blockbusters Funding initiative, the anniversary program featured about 230 events on our stages, on the Forecourt and online. It consisted of First Nations storytelling, free events, international artists, kids programming, tours, public art, concerts, exhibitions and resident company collaborations to encourage the whole community to experience the enduring wonder of the Opera House. As of July 2023, the program had attracted a total attendance of 370,000 people, with 60% being at free or unticketed events. 

The 50th birthday celebrations reinforced the community’s deep affection for the Opera House, a building that belongs to all Australians. Even though international tourism numbers remain behind pre-COVID-19 levels, the resurgence of activity on Bennelong Point reflects a city on the rebound. Our digital engagement is expanding this connection even further, with visits to our website, social media channels and Stream platform now exceeding 20 million, double the pre-COVID-19 visitation of 10 million to the precinct itself. 

Turning 50 allowed us to engage more deeply with the people around us. From performances to tours, the anniversary program was put together to create deeper connections with the community. We wanted to highlight the value of creativity and to invest in the Opera House for future generations. This was a celebration of contemporary culture open to the whole community, with everyone invited to reflect on the past, present and future of the Opera House.  

Clarification: Due to a production error, four shows on p48  (One Woman Show, Do You Hear The People Sing, Aretha and Slide Night) are incorrectly listed as Opera House commissions.  

2022 - 2023 Annual Report

A group of people in yellow and white, playing instruments on the stairs outside the Sydney Opera House.