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A live music tour of the Sydney Opera House

Adventure through the House with some of the world's finest contemporary musicians.

Dominic Ellis

It’s hard to tell the magnitude of a building like the Sydney Opera House from afar. With six performances spaces and a handful of outdoor locations that can transform into stages at a moment’s notice, it’s near-impossible to be familiar with every nook and cranny of this labyrinthine space. Over the years, we’ve invited visiting musicians inside the belly of the beast to show us some of the wonders that lie beneath the shells. 

For more live sessions at the Opera House, check out our Youtube playlist.

Kevin Morby & Waxahatchee in the Joan Sutherland Theatre foyers

On the day of their sold out performance in the Sydney Opera House Studio, Kevin Morby and Kate Crutchfield teamed up for this dreamy rendition of the Bob Dylan classic, 'It Ain't Me Babe'.

Courtney Barnett in Bennelong Restaurant

In just the past few years Courtney has become a national treasure. In 2018 she played two shows in the Concert Hall. Get nourished and sit down with Courtney at Bennelong Restaurant as we present you this sunny, solo rendition of ‘Sunday Roast’. 

Moses Sumney in the Orchestra Pit

“When we scouted the pit we noticed the conductor’s camera, as well as the unique perspective of the lights falling across the theatre seating. We decided to feature those elements to hint at a narrative, as well as place more emphasis on the space itself.”

Moses Sumney never performs a song the same way twice, he brings something unique each time and to each space. Performing his heartbreaking lullaby Don’t Bother Calling, Sumney haunting slur befits the eerie, empty orchestra pit. 

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The National in the Utzon Room

Earlier this year, the smallest official venue in the Sydney Opera House played host to one of the biggest rock bands in the world. Surrounded by luscious indoor plants, a gorgeous harbour view and a woven tapestry designed by Jørn Utzon himself, Matt Beringer and his band treated us to this intimate performance of 'Hard To Find' and ‘Carin at the Liquor Store’ from their Grammy Award-winning album, Sleep Well Beast.

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Middle Kids in the Playhouse

“A space for storytelling” is how we describe the Playhouse, a room built for chamber orchestra recitals that has since become a homestead to talks and long seasons of single-set theatre. ‘Storytelling’ seems apt for a band like Middle Kids, whose music has a nostalgic hue reminiscent of Arcade Fire’s opus The Suburbs. There’s something comfortingly familiar about the melodies of Hannah Joy and her band that makes them well equipped to take on a space like the Playhouse.

No Mono in the Studio

The Studio is the Sydney Opera House's most flexible venue. One moment it can play host to a children's cabaret the next it can be a riotous night club. During Vivid 2018, new kids on the block No Mono made their own mark on the Studio. Doused in smoke and blue and red lights, they performed a chilling rendition of 'Otherside' off their debut release Islands part 1.

Hiatus Kaiyote in the Drama Theatre

Hiatus Kaiyote frontwoman Nai Palm waxed lyrical about the 'subconscious' before their performance of The Lung in a stripped-bare Drama Theatre: "Bringing the inside out, it's materialising the unseen." Such is the purpose of the Nooks and Crannies series, which brought to light the many spectacular spaces housed within the Opera House – from scenery docks to rehearsal rooms and empty drama theatres.

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Conor Oberst in the Scenery Dock

The bustling Scenery Dock evolves on a daily basis and is the beating heart of the Joan Sutherland Theatre, home to our resident companies Opera Australia and The Australian Ballet. Written during the solitude of an Omaha winter, Conor Oberst’s ‘Tachycardia’ ruminates over the trials and tribulations of life. Aptly, Oberst performs the song with multi-instrumentalist and friend Miwi La Lupa amongst the larger than life sets, scenery and props of 19th century Paris from the 2016 production of La Traviata.

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José González inside shell A3

We can’t look away as González’s soft voice and gentle guitar fill the inner shell of the A3 sail, performing his beautiful ‘Open Book’ from the album Vestiges & Claws.

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Poliça in the Ballet Rehearsal Room

Hidden within the inner sanctum of the Opera House, the Ballet Rehearsal Room is home to the world's best ballet dancers. In this live recording, its understated interior comes alive with Poliça's ‘Summer Please’ from politically charged 2016 release ‘United Crushers’.

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Glen Hansard above the Concert Hall

“To look inside the icon... and to be just as impressed.”

Written during his time just across the way in The Rocks, Sydney ‘Stay The Road’ from 2015 release ‘Didn’t He Ramble’ feels right at home as the perfect ode to the hidden acoustic ceiling inside and above the iconic Concert Hall stage.

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Nai Palm in the Concert Hall Grand Organ chamber

Hiatus Kaiyote's Nai Palm returned to the House to coincide with the release of her solo album Needle Paw. This time around we crammed her and her band into the Concert Hall's organ chamber.  Believed to be the largest mechanical tracker-action pipe organ in the world, the Grand Organ is 15 metres high and weighs 37.5 tonnes. It's an immensely complex instrument, but here is merely wallpaper to a charming acoustic performance by a musician at the top of her game.

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Dominic Ellis

Dom is a Digital Coordinator at the Sydney Opera House. His favourite Opera House moments include Kamasi Washington in the Concert Hall and The National on the forecourt.

Dom Ellis on Twitter

Stories from behind the curtain

Go Backstage and discover more from the people, shows and stories that bring the Opera House to life.

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