The Final Stage

Stage Three of the construction of the Sydney Opera House, the interior spaces including the halls, and glass walls.

By Sydney Opera House

The name board during Stage Three (1970) by Leo Davis CollectionSydney Opera House

"The best thing would in my opinion be to stop all building when the shells are finished, and let Peter Hall or other persons build an unpretending new concert hall on another site far apart from Bennelong Point. It would leave the Utzon structure unspoiled and be much cheaper. It would also leave all possibilities open for the future ..."
– Jørn Utzon's former teacher and highly respected Danish architect, Eiler Rasmussen, 1966

This statement, from a letter to the New South Wales Minister for Public Works, Davis Hughes, who was responsible for finishing the project of the Sydney Opera House, was one of many dissenting voices that rang out after Utzon's withdrawal from the project near the end of Stage Two.

For nearly two years the monumental sculpture of the roof and podium stood devoid of interiors and more than a few Sydneysiders joined with a significant international petition for either Utzon to be returned or the sculpture to remain as it then stood.

Nevertheless, with a panel of government-appointed architects chosen to complete the project, including design architect Peter Hall – whose designs for the halls and foyers can be seen today – the enormous task known as Stage Three, including the interior spaces and glass walls of the building, was begun in 1968 and completed in 1973.

The site gatehouse and time keeper (1970) by Leo Davis CollectionSydney Opera House

Hornibrook's clerical staff onsite (1970) by Leo Davis CollectionSydney Opera House

The observation platform above the Tarpeian Wall looks onto the construction site (1970) by Leo Davis CollectionSydney Opera House

Taking a break on the Eastern Broadwalk, Leo Davis Collection, 1970, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Stage Three: Peter Hall, David Littlemore and Lionel Todd (1973) by Max Dupain, State Library of New South WalesSydney Opera House

From left, design architects Peter Hall, David Littlemore and Lionel Todd were charged with finishing the Sydney Opera House in the wake of Utzon's withdrawal from the project.

Concert Hall, scaffolding and formwork during construction (1970) by Max Dupain, State Library of New South WalesSydney Opera House

Scaffolding and formwork during construction of the Concert Hall (1973) by Max Dupain, State Library of New South WalesSydney Opera House

Stage Three, the Concert Hall under construction, Max Dupain, State Library of New South Wales, 1969, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Crane machinery provides support as the scaffolds and formwork for both the glass walls and the Concert Hall are installed.

Concert Hall and glass wall formwork, Leo Davis Collection, 1970, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Backstage construction in the Minor Hall, Leo Davis Collection, 1970, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Bare bones: the Drama Studio before seating, Leo Davis Collection, 1970, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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The Drama Studio today.

Final work on the Northern Foyer begins, during construction Stage Three, Max Dupain, 1972, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Concert Hall, Northern Foyer, Max Dupain, 1973, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Concert Hall, Northern Foyer, Max Dupain, 1973, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Concert Hall, Southern Foyer, Max Dupain, 1973, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Concert Hall, Southern Foyer, Max Dupain, 1973, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Concert Hall, Western Foyer (1973) by Max DupainSydney Opera House

Concert Hall, early construction (1969) by Max DupainSydney Opera House

Concert Hall, early construction (1969) by Max DupainSydney Opera House

Surveying the Concert Hall (1970) by Max DupainSydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House, Concert Hall (1973) by Max DupainSydney Opera House

At the time of its opening, the Concert Hall was celebrated for its world-class acoustics, and in 2004 once again attained a high ranking in acoustic specialist Leo Beranek's index of 58 Concert Halls across the world. The acoustic clouds that can be seen in this photograph are used to provide a basic acoustic foldback to the stage.

Acoustic clouds, Max Dupain, 1973, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Backstage construction in the Minor Hall, Leo Davis Collection, 1970, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Joan Sutherland Theatre at the opening of the Sydney Opera House, Max Dupain, State Library of New South Wales, 1973, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Glass walls near completion, Leo Davis Collection, 1971, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Looking east at the Sydney Opera House just before its official opening, Max Dupain, State Library of New South Wales, 1973, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Looking northeast toward the Sydney Opera House just before its official opening, Max Dupain, State Library of New South Wales, 1973, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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The vaulted shells, four months before opening, Max Dupain, State Library of New South Wales, 1973, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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The finished Sydney Opera House, Max Dupain, State Library of New South Wales, 1973, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Among the first visitors, before the official opening, Max Dupain, State Library of New South Wales, 1973, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Final cladding on the finished Sydney Opera House (1973) by Max Dupain, State Library of New South WalesSydney Opera House

One night a year before opening (1972) by Max Dupain, State Library of New South WalesSydney Opera House

One year after completion (1973) by Max Dupain, State Library of New South WalesSydney Opera House

A newly finished Sydney Opera House by night (1973) by Max Dupain, State Library of New South WalesSydney Opera House

Bennelong Restaurant, newly opened with Circular Quay in the distance (1973) by Max DupainSydney Opera House

One night a month after opening (1973) by Max Dupain, State Library of New South WalesSydney Opera House

Credits: Story

Created by Sam Doust and the
Sydney Opera House GCI Team

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Contributors:
Sydney Opera House Wolanski Archive Collection
State Library of New South Wales

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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