First Nations at the Sydney Opera House
Celebrating the richness of the world’s oldest living cultures
Tubowgule, as the land on which the Opera House stands is known to its Traditional Custodians, the Gadigal, has long been a gathering place for storytelling, ceremony and culture. The Opera House continues this legacy today by embracing and celebrating the culture of Australia’s First Peoples.
Welcome to Country
A Welcome To Country is a customary greeting that Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island people extend to visitors, who in turn agree to respect traditional laws and culture.
Upcoming performances, shows and events
Badu Gili - meaning ‘water light’ in the language of the traditional owners of Bennelong Point, the Gadigal people - is a free daily experience that explores First Nations stories in a spectacular six-minute projection on the Opera House’s eastern Bennelong sails.
It’s January 1788 and a mysterious fleet is amassing in the harbour. Seven clan leaders must make a momentous decision: to send these strangers on their way or welcome them?
During October, to mark the occasion of the Sydney Opera House’s 50th anniversary, Cope will install a series of monumental site specific sculptures that honour Tubowgule’s pre-settlement history while considering the environment’s fragility.
Join the late Harold Blair’s daughter, Nerida Blair and contemporary First Nations performers in conversation with Daniel Browning.
Beloved, ARIA-nominated Indigenous singer-songwriter Emma Donovan brings her dazzling soul, roots and country sound to her headlining debut at the Sydney Opera House.
Witness the powerful coming together of traditional customs and contemporary culture, with hundreds of First Nations dancers from around Australia and performers from around the world.
Join us on the forecourt, a First Nations meeting place for thousands of years, to share in this free festival of live dance, music and community.
Find out more about Sydney Opera House First Nations programming
Since its opening in 1973 the Opera House has carried a deeper legacy, one that embraces, challenges and celebrates Australian culture.
But what of Australia’s First Peoples and First Nations culture? How does a cultural institution like the Opera House celebrate First Nations work, or more specifically works for the stage? Has it always done so?
Liza-Mare Syron traces the history of First Nations theatre at the Sydney Opera House back to the buildings very first days.
Stream, read & listen
Meet the Indigenous artists bringing First Nations cultures to the world.
Acclaimed presenter, journalist, actor, producer and arts guru Rhoda Roberts AO presents Deadly Voices from the House, recorded live from Sydney Opera House.
Ever since it was a place for ceremony, gathering and celebration in Aboriginal Australia, Tubowgule has always reflected the society tucked in around Sydney Cove.
We talk to Frances Belle Parker, one of the five Badu Gili artists, about her work, her motivation and how she's used the Opera House’s sails as a blank canvas.
Few people have had as much influence on what takes place in these hallowed halls as Rhoda Roberts. This month, she finishes her incredible stint at the Opera House. We spoke to actress and Trustee Deborah Mailman about Robert's everlasting impact.
Teen R&B sensation Budjerah has themed his playlist around love, and all the daydreaming and sweet talking that comes with a budding romance. Listen in, then tune in to his exclusive Opera House show for Liminal.
We ask some of our Opera House family – performers and artists who take centre stage during this week of celebration – to discuss this year's NAIDOC theme and to unpack why the week matters to them.
Celebrating the unique music which has been created by First Nations Australian composers in the past 5 years as part of Ngarra-Burria: First Peoples Composers program, this special concert featuring the compact chamber force of Ensemble Offspring places these ancient musical voices reflecting land, nature, history and deep culture at the forefront of living art music in Australia.
Emily Nicol speaks to the creators of this year's extraordinary Vivid Lighting of the Sails artwork: the Martumili Artists, musicians Electric Fields, and creative technologists Curiious.
Career development opportunities
The Sydney Opera House is committed to providing hands-on experiences to young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, which can lead to employment opportunities.
For further information about these career opportunities, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The best way for students to experience what we do is through our Work Experience Program. Through our partnership with the NSW Department of Education we run a program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who are studying in years 9-12. The program is a week long and is offered several times throughout the year. During the week, students are introduced to different staff and departments across the organisation. The program is practical and participants spend time working in up to four different departments to gain first-hand work experience.
After completing our Work Experience Program, students can apply for a paid internship. These internships are currently offered in our Ticketing Sales department and we are always looking to expand the types of intern roles. The internship is based on a 90 hour contract as a Ticketing Sales Representative. The hours of work are designed to fit around the student’s study, and students develop skills in sales and customer service, operating ticketing software and basic computing. We have a growing alumni of interns, many of whom have gained ongoing employment at the Opera House and are now involved in facilitating Work Experience Program activities with students.
Each year the Opera House supplements these two programs with events for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Our Careers Day program is one such event where participants get to meet a range of Opera House employees to hear about what they do and stories of their career pathways.
Courtney, Work Experience Program participant, FY17
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to be great and learn more about our culture at the Opera House.
Explore the history of the site where the Opera House stands.
The Opera House is committed to providing educational, professional development and cultural opportunities for First Nations communities. Whether through work experience, curated performances, such as the annual Dance Rites festival, or the daily lighting of the sails, the generous contributions of our visitors and friends allows us to create a positive impact in the lives of our communities.
Giving a gift today helps foster and celebrate a shared sense of belonging for all Australians.
Reconciliation Action Plan
The Opera House is committed to respecting, embracing and celebrating the culture of Australia’s First People. Our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) outlines this commitment through a range of actions and initiatives that are being undertaken across all areas of the Opera House. These initiatives aim to safeguard the traditions of the world’s oldest living culture, and provide opportunities for Australia’s First People.