Sydney Opera House: 6 Famous Concerts

Over the years, the landmark building has hosted some of the world's most famous figures

By Google Arts & Culture

The first person to perform at the Sydney Opera House was the America singer Paul Robeson. In 1960, he reportedly sang Ol' Man River to the construction workers as they ate lunch.

By Alfred EisenstaedtLIFE Photo Collection

The first opera performed was Sergei Prokofiev's War and Peace, on 28 September 1973, nearly a full month before the Opera House was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 20 October.

War and Peace by Opera AustraliaSydney Opera House

The first public concert in the Concert Hall took place on 29 September, 1973. The Sydney Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Charles Mackerras, performed an all-Wagner concert, with Birgit Nilsson as the soprano soloist.

Birgit Nilsson by Alfred EisenstaedtLIFE Photo Collection

In 1986, Pope John Paul II gave a speech in the Concert Hall of the Opera House, saying that, "Religious life in Australia is anything but a thing of the past. It is one of the most precious assets of our time."

Pope John Paul II in the Forecourt by Sydney Opera HouseSydney Opera House

In 1990, Nelson Mandela addressed a crowd of 40,000 people gathered at the Monumental Steps, in front of the Opera House, and attended a choral performance of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrica (God Bless Africa).

Nelson Mandela addresses a huge crowd from the Monumental Steps by Craig Golding/Fairfax SyndicationSydney Opera House

The next year, at the age of 63, Joan Sutherland, the Australian coloratura soprano, gives her last full-length dramatic performance at the Sydney Opera House as Marguerite de Valois in Les Huguenots, where she sang Home Sweet Home for her encore.

Joan Sutherland in Les Huguenots by Opera AustraliaSydney Opera House

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