A new exhibition called The People’s House: Sydney Opera House at 50 has just been announced. Hosted by the Museum of Sydney from 1 July, it will celebrate five decades of performances and unforgettable moments that have taken place at Sydney’s iconic civic space.

The Sydney Opera House officially opened on 20 October, 1973 after a fraught 14-year construction that tested the limits of architect Jørn Utzon’s patience, the technology of the times and the political will of the NSW government. But when it was finally completed, it put Sydney on the global stage.

Onlookers seated on the monumental steps for the Opera House’s opening ceremony. 20 October, 1973. Photo supplied

During the  years  of  construction,  it was the workers – an estimated 10,000 during the project’s building phase – who enjoyed  the first performances. International figures including American singer Paul Robeson and Trinidadian pianist Winifred Atwell performed on the concrete foundations in the 1960s.

As the building neared completion, the Opera House invited site workers and their families to attend...