Skip to main content
A collage of artists at Sydney opera house.

Sydney Opera House lifts the curtain on new program of live events

Sydney – Wednesday 14 October, 2020. The Sydney Opera House today announced an exciting next step in welcoming audiences and visitors back to the site with a program of unmissable live events set to start in two weeks. 

The line-up includes the return of Antidote – the Opera House’s annual festival of action, ideas and change that will bring together thought-leaders from around the world to reflect on 2020 – along with an inspiring and diverse calendar of First Nations culture and storytelling, comedyjazzkids shows and independent local artists, curated by Sydney Opera House Presents. Resident companies will also make their return next month when the Sydney Theatre Company takes to the stage with its production of Rules for Living.

For the first time, the Opera House and award-winning Bennelong restaurant will offer visitors the opportunity to enjoy the finest food and wine, with performances by musicians including from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Australian Chamber Orchestra.

Guided tours will also return, refreshed and with a new purpose-built venue that allows guests to watch unforgettable moments from past Concert Hall performances, brought to life through a 270-degree digital projection.

Today's announcement follows last month's reopening of Opera Kitchen and Opera Bar. All events and activities will be conducted in line with NSW Health advice, with a range of robust on-site measures to ensure the safety of artists, audience, visitors and staff. Full details here.

Sydney Opera House CEO Louise Herron AM said: “I’m thrilled that the easing of restrictions in NSW means we can now safely welcome artists, audiences and visitors back to the Opera House.

“Since closing in March due to COVID-19, we have continued to connect artists with audiences through the digital program From Our House to Yours, with close to six million views and listens of free on-demand content to date.

“But there’s nothing like live, in-person experiences. So we’re delighted to be welcoming the community back to the Opera House with an exciting range of performances, events and a new one-hour tour.

“As a registered COVID Safe business, we will be implementing a number of onsite measures, in line with NSW Health guidelines and our commitment to the safety and wellbeing of artists, audiences, visitors and staff.”

NSW Minister for the Arts Don Harwin said: “The return of live performances at the Opera House is a magnificent moment and another welcome symbol of a return to normality. The Opera House was built to serve the people of NSW so it is wonderful to see its theatres and venues reopening, helping to reinvigorate and rebuild our community following the unprecedented impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.”

The Opera House will reopen the doors of its theatres with a vibrant program, including:

  • Antidote – The annual festival will return for its fourth year with talks, workshops, visual arts, participatory installation and immersive experiences programmed by the Opera House’s Head of Talks & Ideas, Edwina Throsby. Speakers from Australia and around the world – including Man Booker-shortlisted author of Such a Fun Age Kiley Reid, Dutch historian Rutger Bregman, Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney Jess Scully, advocate for Indigenous-led design Jefa Greenaway, and climate change social researcher Rebecca Huntley – will discuss the big challenges, along with possible solutions, reflecting on 2020 and looking to the future. The festival will take place on Sunday 29 November in the Joan Sutherland Theatre, with workshops and contemporary art in the Yallamundi and Utzon Rooms. Audiences will also be able to experience the program online, with more information about digital tickets to be released soon.
  • Dance Rites – Australia’s annual First Nations dance competition, Dance Rites, will return in November as a digital festival. Now in its sixth year, Dance Rites is a critical cultural program that revitalises Indigenous leadership, safeguards vanishing cultural practices and showcases the richness and diversity of First Nations dance and songlines. More information on the national competition will be announced soon.
  • Tom Gleeson – Lighten Up – Hard Quiz host and Gold Logie winner Tom Gleeson is a sure fire, killer stand-up comedian at the top of his game. Smart, incisive and with an edge as sharp as it gets, the Gleeson trademark style that has connected with Australian audiences in droves will be returning with his show Lighten Up in the Joan Sutherland Theatre from 4 – 5 December.
  • Diary of a Wombat – Based on the multi-award-winning book by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley, the adventures of Australia’s naughtiest wombat will be brought to life on the Playhouse stage through the magic of puppetry and live music from 10 – 13 December.
  • Utzon UnWrapped – Vazesh – This improvisational trio features renowned Iranian tar player Hamed Sadeghi (Eishan Ensemble), award-winning saxophonist and bass clarinettist Jeremy Rose (The Vampires, Earshift Orchestra) and bassist Lloyd Swanton (The Necks, The Catholics). Inspired by the melodies of traditional Persian music, this exciting collaboration will perform in the Utzon Room (12 December).
  • Don Burrows Memorial – In March this year, an era of Australian music ended with the passing of Australian jazz icon and national treasure, Don Burrows AO MBE. In this one-off performance hosted by television journalist and Gold Logie winner Ray Martin, Australian musicians including jazz greats James Morrison, Emma Pask, Judy Bailey, William Barton and many more will pay tribute and celebrate the life and music of a true jazz legend on 1 November in the Joan Sutherland Theatre.
  • The Opera House is also excited to welcome back the Sydney Theatre Company to present its season of Rules for Living in the Drama Theatre from 2 November – 19 December.

Across the precinct, a number of dining venues will reopen and guided tours will also resume:

  • Bennelong Ensembles – For the first time, the Opera House’s two-hatted restaurant will host an intimate dining and performance experience with a new menu by Executive Chef Peter Gilmore and Head Chef Rob Cockerill. The program will include musicians from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Australian Chamber Orchestra. The limited series will be on sale from 29 October – 20 December.
  • Opera House tour – From 5 November, tours will resume with a revamped Opera House guided experience beneath the sails. Perfect for Sydneysiders keen to explore their own backyard, this one-hour tour features a new immersive experience in a new purpose-built venue with state-of-the-art technology, 270-degree visuals and surround sound, as well as heritage-inspired interiors. Guests will watch unforgettable moments from past Concert Hall performances and hear stories about this world-famous hall.
  • Portside – Located in the Western Foyers and Colonnade, Portside will reopen for dining from 2 November.

For media information, please contact:

Julia Barnes
Senior Communications Manager / 0402 678 589

Kate Huish
Head of External Communications / 0422 963 184