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Illustrations projected onto the Western sail of the Opera House.
From the Sails: Light Years Image: Image on the sails by Max Dupain, Mitchell Library [ON562nos.1708-1714], State Library New South Wales

From the Sails: Light Years

19 — 30 Oct

It's our 50th anniversary year and we are kicking off celebrations with From the Sails: Light Years, a film projected nightly onto the Opera House sails that celebrates the past, present and people of the Sydney Opera House.

From The Sails: Light Years looks back at the design and construction of the Opera House, the grand opening in 1973, its ongoing contribution to the community in the decades that have followed and the many people that have been involved in its rich history over the last 50 years.

Light Years has been created with principal artist Sam Doust of experiential design and technology company Art Processors, and features contributing work by artists Jake Duczynski and Jason Poley.

The film is a spectacular celebration of one of Australia's most beloved icons through a stunning light projection and live-sync soundscape designed and composed by Andrew Stevenson, Hylton Mowday, and Josh Paton. You can listen on your own device when the film is playing by clicking the Light Years Soundscape link (headphones recommended).

From the Sails: Light Years will illuminate the western sails of the Opera House each night from 7.30pm to 11pm from 19 - 30 October 2022*.

Lighting of the Sails | Free event

Free event

From the Sails: Light Years is a free event for everyone to enjoy.

Make the most of your Opera House experience — arrive early to see From the Steps: Voices at Dusk, a free choral event on the Forecourt or grab a drink and a bite to eat at one of our many restaurants.

Screenings from 7.30pm to 11pm

A special Diwali lighting of the sails will occur on 24 Oct*

Click + to view daily scheduled times.

Scheduled times are a guide and may vary slightly.

*The Sydney Opera House sails are being illuminated in gold on Monday 24 October to mark the start of Diwali. Light Years will continue from Tuesday 25 October from 7.30pm until Sunday 30 October. It can also be viewed online via the Opera House’s digital platform Stream.
 

October 2022

Projection Starts

19 October

7.15pm

20 October

7.30pm - Onsite

20 October

7.30pm - Livestream performance

21 October

7.30pm

22 October

7.30pm

23 October

7.30pm

24 October*

No screening as the Sydney Opera House sails are being illuminated in gold to mark the start of Diwali

25 October

7.30pm

26 October

7.30pm

27 October

7.30pm

28 October

7.30pm

29 October

7.30pm

30 October

7.30pm

 

Suitable for all ages

Young people under the age of 15 must be accompanied at all times.

Light Years Treatment

To begin, audiences witness a reflection on the ancient promontory of Tubowgule with a prologue created by First Nations artist Jake Duczynski and Studio Gilay.

Prologue Design Philosophy – written by Studio Gilay
Utzon’s design inspiration of growth principle in organic forms is a driving philosophy behind the prologue. Wéllema Tubowgule is a celebration of the textures and forms that are abundantly found across Gadigal Country, with a subtle nod to cultural practice of the area. Through a sequence of vignettes, Wéllema Tubowgule offers a viewport for the audience to peer into a selection of abstracted textures, fibre and flora – in which there is much significance, story and knowledges attached. The desire in utilising this process and intertwined with Utzon’s design philosophy, is to push the organic form to a point in which conceivable scale and proportion of even the most diminutive objects can be re-imagined in towering structural form. The hope is to bring attention to and celebrate Country, acknowledging its beauty, its resource and storytelling that’s been here well before us and will remain beyond.

The film is a celebration of the diversity of people who have breathed life into the iconic building. From Jørn Utzon, Ove Arup, Peter Hal, Anita Levy, to the welders, carpenters, engineers and construction workers. Included is an iconic performance on the construction site from American bass-baritone concert artist, stage and film actor of the time Paul Robeson.

The building’s opening in 1973, is represented with the first programmed performance at Sydney Opera House from Australian First Nations actor Ben Blakeney, fireworks, Gough Whitlam and a visit from Queen Elizabeth.

Transformative moments created when artists’ virtuosity meets the energy of an audience to make the building sing! We celebrate artists and the production creators backstage, and the countless events that have brought the community together for half a century. We feature iconic performance images from our resident companies and Sydney Opera House Presents.

The film is accompanied by an original soundscape and musical score, composed by Hylton Mowday and designed by Andrew Stevenson. This cinematic soundscape carries you through 70 years of history with a variety of genres in a sweeping arrangement mixed with timely quotes from key stakeholders in the building's development.

Audiences can listen to the soundscape on their own device via a QR code wherever they choose to watch the spectacle – across the Harbour, on the water or enjoying one of the many great venues in the area.

From the Sails: Light Years Image Attribution

Prologue by Jake Duczynski, Jason Poley, Studio Gilay

Black & White origins and construction sections courtesy of:
Mitchell Library, SLNSW 
State Records NSW
Max Dupain
David Moore
RIBA collections

Paul Robeson - First Singer at the Opera House
CMPs newsreel collection
Courtesy of Cinesound Movietone Productions

Welcome to Sydney image
Courtesy of State Records NSW

Opening image of the Harbour & European migrants
Photography by David Moore

The portrait of Arup
Courtesy of RIBA

Performance Images

Sergei Prokofiev's operatic adaptation of 'War and Peace' the first public performance at Sydney Opera House 1973

Joan Sutherland performs in La Traviata, Covent Garden 1960... quote from the official Sydney Opera House guide book: "[Eugene Goossens] brought with him international fame in the performing arts, and he would nurture and develop local stars, including Joan Sutherland, who made her debut in 1952 at London's prestigious Royal Opera House in Covent Garden

Mornington Island Dancers from Lardil Language group outside the Sydney Opera House 1975. 
Image courtesy of Alex Ozolins/National Library of Australia nla.obj - 138167355
With permission from John Armstrong on behalf of the community 

John Windschuttle as Amor in Opera Australia's 'The Coronation of Poppea'
Photography by Kiren Chang
Image courtesy of Opera Australia

Kelvin Coe in Graeme Murphy’s 'Beyond Twelve', 1980.
Photography by Branco Gaica
Photo courtesy of The Australian Ballet

Sir Charles MacKerras with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the Sydney Opera House opening concert 1973

Simone Young with Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the re-opening of the Concert Hall 2022

Artists of The Australian Ballet and Bangarra Dance Theatre in Stephen Pages’ ‘Waramuk – in the dark night’ 2012
Photography Jeff Busby
Photo courtesy of The Australian Ballet

Rika Hamaguchi in Bangarra Dance Theatre production of 'SandSong', 2021
Photography by Daniel Boud

Beau Dean Riley Smith in Bangarra Dance Theatre production of 'Bennelong', 2017
Photography by Daniel Boud

Richard Tognetti moving image still from ‘ACO StudioCast: Love & Transfiguration’ 2021
Australian Chamber Orchestra
Director of Photography by Tyson Perkins & Drew English

‘Natives Go Wild' 2019
Photo courtesy Sydney Opera House
Photography by Anna Kucera

Sydney Philharmonia Choir performing Christmas 2014
Photography by Keith Saunders

Nick Cave solo concert in the Concert Hall 2019
Photography by Daniel Boud

Ruby Hunter
Photography by Wendell Teodoro
Image courtesy of Getty Images
With permission from the family of Ruby Hunter

John Bell as King Lear in Bell Shakespeare production 2010
Photography by Wendy McDougall

Artists of The Australian Ballet in Graeme Murphy’s ‘Swan Lake’ 2005
Photography by Jim McFarlane
Photo courtesy of The Australian Ballet

Amber Scott in David McAllister's ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ 2015
Photography by Kate Longley
Photo courtesy of The Australian Ballet

Paula Arundell and Robert Menzies in Sydney Theatre Company's 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream' 2016
Photography by Brett Boardman

The National forecourt performance 2014
Photography by Daniel Boud

‘Inside Exxopolis’ 2014
Photography by Daniel Boud

Lionel Zalachas in Broadway Entertainment Group production of 'The Little Prince' 2020
Direction and Choreography Anne Tournié
Photography Prudence Upton

Zadie Smith & Sisonke Msimang 2019
Photography by Prudence Upton

Kraftwerk perform ‘The Mix’ at Vivid LIVE 2013
Photography by Daniel Boud & Prudence Upton

Lizzo performs in the Concert Hall 2020
Photography by Prudence Upton

Paul Kelly performs on the forecourt 2017
Photography by Prudence Upton

Solange performs in the Concert Hall 2020
Photography by Daniel Boud

‘À Ố Làng Phố’
Theatre Senart Production 2019
Photography by Elizabeth Ashley

Iggy Pop performs in the Concert Hall 2019
Photography by Prudence Upton

Dalisa Pigram performs in 'Gudirr Gudirr' 2018
Presented by Marrugeku
Choreography by Dalisa Pigram and Koen Augustijen
Visual Design by Vernon Ah Kee
Photography by Daniel Boud

Angela Goh, The Concert (2022), moving image still, 40:00
Commissioned by the Sydney Opera House, as part of New Work Now
Enabled by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects
Image courtesy of the artist and Fine Arts, Sydney

Jannawi Dance Clan perform in Dance Rites 2020
Photography by Daniel Boud
Photo courtesy of Prideaux Entertainment Solutions

Dame Margaret Scott in Graeme Murphy's 'Nutcracker' – The Story of Clara. Photography Jim McFarlane
Photo courtesy of The Australian Ballet

Projections on the Opera House sails

Celebrating the Opera House's 50th Anniversary 

From the Sails: Light Years is a spectacular celebration of one of Australia’s most beloved icons, the Sydney Opera House, through a stunning film and a live-sync soundscape.

Witness a reflection on the ancient promontory of Tubowgule before being swept up in an ode to the building’s design and construction, the opening in 1973, and the vibrant legacy of performance, showcasing evocative and memorable moments.

The film is also a celebration of the diversity of people who have breathed life into the iconic building. From Jørn Utzon, Ove Arup and Peter Hall, to the welders, carpenters, engineers and construction workers, to the artists and the creators backstage, and the countless events that have brought the community together for half a century.

Discover our story

Proudly funded by

New South Wales Government

This project is proudly supported by the NSW Government through the Blockbusters Funding initiative.

Light Years Livestream

From the Sails: Light Years was broadcast live from the Sydney Opera House on Thursday 20 October in celebration of our 49th birthday. You can watch the beautiful film featuring the history, culture and community that brings the Opera House to life from the comfort of your home anytime and anywhere in the world via Stream, our online streaming platform.

Watch now

Make the most of your night

Before the sails light up join us for From the Steps: Voices at Dusk when community choirs gather on the Monumental Steps and their harmonies fill the air as the sun sets.

This free event welcomes you to experience music and community at the Opera House and is the first event in our year long celebrations in our 50th year.

Find out more

Celebrate the extraordinary

In our 50th year, we’re throwing a party and everyone’s invited.

Join us for a year-long festival celebrating the past, present and future of Australia’s favourite building.

Explore the highlights

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you a COVID Safe business?

Yes. The Opera House is registered as a COVID Safe business with the NSW Government.  

What safety and hygiene measures are in place?

Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of everyone on site, and we are closely following NSW Health guidelines and advice. Our COVID-19 health and safety information is available on the Plan your visit page.

What are the transport options to the Opera House?

You can catch public transport (bus, train, ferry) to Circular Quay and enjoy a 6 minute walk to the Opera House. If you’re getting dropped off in a car, head to the roundabout at the bottom of Macquarie Street where staff will direct you to a safe place to pull over.

Driving? Park in Wilson’s Car Park, you’re just minutes to your tour meeting point. Need a bit more info? Click here

What time do I need to arrive? 

It’s a great idea to arrive early and watch From the Steps: Voices at Dusk where community choirs will perform from the Monumental Steps. It is a free event for everyone to enjoy.

Please note sunset varies each day so be sure to check sunset times on the day. 

What should I wear?

From The Sails: Light Years is an outdoor event, we recommend wearing weather appropriate attire. 

Where can I eat nearby?

Satisfy your hunger at one of the many restaurants and bars here at the Opera House. Our restaurants offer everything from casual snacks to award-winning fine dining. Find what you’re after, see our Restaurants

What is the best vantage point for watching the sails lighting? 

For the best experience we reccomend watching From the Sails: Light Years from the Sydney Opera House Forecourt, before moving around the harbour to the Musuem of Contemporary Art and the Overseas Passenger Terminal to get a well rounded view. 

From the Sails: Light Years is accompanied by an original score to elevate your viewing experience. Click here to listen to the soundscape when the film is playing (headphones recommended). 

How do I listen to the soundscape?

From the Sails: Light Years is accompanied by an original score to elevate your viewing experience. Click here to listen to the soundscape when the film is playing (headphones recommended).

Or use the camera on your mobile to scan the QR code on the Light Years signs shown on the screens around the Sydney Opera House and at the Overseas Passenger Terminal to access the soundscape. 

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