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Archives In Brief 30 - Records relating to the Sydney Opera House

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A brief overview of the major sources held by State Records that relate to the planning, construction and opening of the Opera House. It is intended for use in conjunction with Archives in Brief 28.

Sydney Opera House Digital Galleries - include the 1955 booklet setting out the conditions for the architectural competition, the original set of competition drawings submitted by Jørn Utzon, as well as a number of later, more detailed sketches, drawings and plans.

A select list of sources

Department of Public Works and Services

NRS 12688, Photographs taken by Max Dupain showing the various stages of construction of the Sydney Opera House, c.1959-73

NRS 12689, Department of Public Works Sydney Opera House Files, c.1962-75
These files consist of correspondence, minutes, reports, accounts and publications.

NRS 12702, 'An International Competition for a National Opera House at Bennelong Point, Sydney, New South Wales Australia: Conditions and Programme', 1955
This booklet is known as the Brown Book. All copies have annotations.

NRS 12705, Negatives of Competition drawings, 1958 NRS 12706, 'Sydney Opera House', 2 Mar 1959
This printed booklet, known as the Gold Book, was issued to accompany the 'Ceremony to Commemorate the Commencement of the Sydney Opera House'.

NRS 12707, 'Sydney National Opera House', Mar 1958
This report, known as the Red Book, was presented by Jørn Utzon to the Premier and the Opera House Committee.

NRS 12708, 'Sydney Opera House', Jan 1962
This report, known as the Yellow Book, comprises plans submitted by Jørn Utzon and consultants.

NRS 12714, 'Sydney Opera House: Chronological Report on Planning and Design', 2 Oct 1964
This typescript gives brief comments on progress of various aspects of design including glass walls, stage lighting and electrical services.

NRS 12715, Sydney National Opera House: Structural Scheme Stage II, 1962
These are copies of plans drawn up by Ove Arup Partners for roof elevations and internal contours of the shells for the minor and major halls.

NRS 12824, First designs by Hall, Todd and Littlemore
Reel 2559
These detailed drawings, known as the White Book, are of the Concert Hall and Opera Theatre by Hall, Todd and Littlemore.

NRS 12825, Competition drawings submitted by Jørn Utzon to the Opera House Committee, 1956
These are the original competition drawings for which Jørn was awarded first prize of ₤5,000.
Copies of the drawings are on display in our digital gallery.

Parliamentary papers and press statements

NRS 12695, Parliamentary papers relating to the Sydney Opera House
These are mainly Parliamentary Debates.

NRS 12697, Opera House press statements, 1962-66
These press statements relate to the construction of the Sydney Opera House between August 1962 and December 1966.

Sydney Opera House Official Opening Committee

NRS 14000, Correspondence files, 1972-73
The files comprise minutes of meetings of the Committee, applications for invitations, guest lists, printed information sheets and correspondence.

NRS 14001, Sydney Opera House Official Opening and Festival: Final Report, 20 Oct-3 Nov 1973

NRS 14002, Newspaper cuttings, 17 Jan 1972-9 Nov 1973

Other records

For further sources researchers should also consult Archives Investigator using Simple Search option for the term 'Opera House'. For records of the following agencies, select Advanced Search - Agency:

Researchers should consult the Register of Access Directions to confirm the public availability of records. State Records' staff can advise you on the availability of records if they are not listed on the register.

© State of New South Wales through the State Records Authority, 2003.
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