Sydney Opera House at Rest

Title reads: Sydney Opera House at Rest


Work continues under the Opera House sails during COVID-19, but the normal throngs of performers and pilgrims have temporarily vanished. Sydney photographer Daniel Boud captures the icon in a rarely-seen state of repose.

Dark Opera House foyers, with stone wall covering most of the image, and steps on the right hand side. Sunlight partially hits the stairs.
A reflective photo of the Opera House from the other side of Circular Quay. A woman runs towards the camera in the foreground.
Top down image of a woman running on the forecourt of the Opera House.
Image of the Opera House and a sunset, reflected in glass windows. A silhouette of a woman running appears in the bottom right corner.
A reflective photo of the Opera House from the other side of Circular Quay. A woman runs towards the camera in the foreground.
Top down image of a woman running on the forecourt of the Opera House.
Image of the Opera House and a sunset, reflected in glass windows. A silhouette of a woman running appears in the bottom right corner.

“I’ve done hundreds of photo shoots at Sydney Opera House over the past ten years; it’s a bustling hub of activity at all hours, with tourists and school groups throughout the day and thousands attending the various theatres and restaurants every night.

Man paints wall white

Woman dusting external walls of Joan Sutherland theatre while standing on a small ladder

“I leapt at the chance to document the spaces in their ‘at rest’ state. I relished walking through the building alone, quietly observing peaceful mundane moments, and the various ways the light hit the stunningly designed building.

“I leapt at the chance to document the spaces in their ‘at rest’ state. I relished walking through the building alone, quietly observing peaceful mundane moments, and the various ways the light hit the stunningly designed building.

Woman dusting external walls of Joan Sutherland theatre while standing on a small ladder

“While I spent a lot of time alone, I also found moments of human activity, the main one being all the construction going on in the Concert Hall, but also finding various other tradespeople and cleaners throughout the building, tending to it to renew and maintain it, awaiting visitors again.”

Daniel Boud

Man high pressure hoses the Harbour wall along the edge of Opera Bar, Opera House emerges out of the top right corner

Image of two construction works drilling and sawing in the Concert Hall construction site
Another image appears alongside the construction workers, this time it's a picture of the concert hall foyers, with a set of stairs being constructed

Major renewal works continue in and around the Concert Hall

Image of Concert Hall foyers being worked on

Major renewal works continue in and around the Concert Hall

Image of the entrance to the Opera House, with sign reading 'Concert Hall and Box Office'
Image of a dining area, with sun setting through window in the background. Long shadows are cast across the red carpet.
Image of red curtains falling from a timber roof
Red staircase, with a sign in background reading 'Circle, Door 25'
Image of Opera House foyers, large set of stairs with a dark column leaning over
Image of several rows of red chairs

“I felt heartbroken for everyone in the performing arts industry who wasn’t able to work. So I got in touch with a couple of dancers, Amanda McGuigan from The Australian Ballet and Tyrel Dulvarie from Bangarra Dance Theatre, and asked if they’d like to collaborate with me on a project to try and capture how we were all feeling during this time of uncertainty. Much like me, I knew they’d been stewing at home, frustrated at not being able to properly practise and perform the crafts they loved and missed.

I photographed them in their respective closed theatres (The Australian Ballet in the Joan Sutherland Theatre and Bangarra in the Drama Theatre) and asked them to use their bodies to tell a story about how they were feeling. I wanted the photos to express the melancholy, discomfort, strangeness of it all.”

 Daniel Boud

Dancer on her back, feet pointing upwards, shadow cast on a timber backdrop
Dancer hidden amongst many rows of red chairs
Dancer lies alone in red carpeted staircase, her arms up crossed up above her head

Dancer seen through a dark window, reflections of the harbour and bridge visible in the top half of the image. She reaches for her pointe shoe, unclear if removing it or stretching

“The most hauntingly beautiful experience was being in an empty Joan Sutherland Theatre. With no crew, no other dancers, no orchestra or audience. I performed ballet in this theatre for the very first time as a school kid and later my first principal role with The Australian Ballet.

“There have been countless performances and beautiful memories with the company in between. In this moment I was so aware of all the magic that we take for granted, both performers and audiences. I know this crazy time will give me a strengthened appreciation of what I do and the joy that it brings to the audience. So many of my big moments have happened in this incredible space and I just can’t wait for it to be alive again.”

Amanda McGuigan

A completely empty, beige ballet rehearsal room
Male bangarra dancer, emerges from concrete walls, arms and legs curved inwards
Bangarra dancer, lent over, hand reaching upward against concrete backdrop
Bangarra dancer strides forward, gripping post out front of Opera House
Male bangarra dancer, emerges from concrete walls, arms and legs curved inwards
Bangarra dancer, lent over, hand reaching upward against concrete backdrop
Bangarra dancer strides forward, gripping post out front of Opera House

“Over the last five years, as a performer or a visitor, I’ve never seen the Opera House empty. Walking on a stripped, under-constructed stage, there was no audience, no excitement, no adrenaline, no nerves – just emptiness. The feeling I had going into the Drama Theatre, where Bangarra premieres their latest debuts, left me thinking if I’d ever get to perform in there again.”

Tyrel Dulvarie

Gordi performs on JST stage with band, image taken from behind, theatre is empty
Close up of violinist performing
Gordi singing and playing piano
Gordi performs on JST stage with band, image taken from behind, theatre is empty
Close up of violinist performing
Gordi singing and playing piano

“I did always imagine that if I ever played a show at the Opera House, there would be a few more audience members. But strangely the pandemic has quickly conditioned me to be used to no real audience. The stage manager calling out ‘10... 9... 8...’ was enough to cue the adrenaline surge and remind me I was about to play a live show from the Sydney Opera House, broadcast across the world. Tell my 15 year old self that! 

Sitting at the stunning grand piano that had been tuned twice since we got there, I thought of all the artists, bands and creators that had stood on the same stage. The real life experience was as epic as it had felt in the last decade of my dreams.”

Gordi

Dark internal shot of Opera House sails
Apex of Opera House sail
Opera House and Harbour Bridge framed by trees in the botanical garden
Silhouette of the Opera House at sundown

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Photography by Daniel Boud
Edited by Ali Boschen, Dominic Ellis & Mel Wellington
Thanks to Amanda McGuigan, Tyrel Dulvarie & Gordi