The Book



Anne Watson

‘I believe that the work of Hall Todd & Littlemore under Peter Hall’s leadership is the outstanding architectural achievement in Australia of its decade and should be treated with respectful consideration.’  Andrew Andersons AO


About the book

Testing the very boundaries of technology, the creation of the Sydney Opera House was long and fraught with difficulties. With the building still a series of empty shells when its architect, Jørn Utzon, dramatically departed in early 1966, there was much for his successor, the 34-year old Sydney architect Peter Hall, to resolve. For both architects in many ways the Opera House was a ‘poisoned chalice’ – an unprecedented architectural and technical challenge that presented almost insurmountable obstacles. But while Utzon’s reputation has been restored, Hall’s contribution has brought little recognition and, often, misguided condemnation. Through its exploration of the completion of the Opera House 1966-73 under Hall’s direction in the consortium Hall Todd & Littlemore, The Poisoned Chalice proposes an alternative narrative – a more inclusive and balanced understanding of this magnificent building, unencumbered by the divisive undercurrents that have hitherto skewed most histories.

244 pages, 260 x 220 mm (portrait), colour and b&w, limp bound, rrp $39.00
Published by opusSOH Inc, Sydney, August 2017.

Go to the ORDER FORM here.

About the Author

Dr Anne Watson’s PhD thesis (Sydney University, 2014) was titled ‘Peter Hall and the Sydney Opera House: the “lost” years 1966-1970’. She is an independent architecture curator and writer whose recent publications include, ‘”That Immense and Complicated Thing”: Peter Hall and the Challenge of a Career’, in A Watson (ed), Building a Masterpiece: the Sydney Opera House (2nd ed, Powerhouse, 2013); ‘The Poisoned Chalice’, Meanjin, Summer 2015; and Visionaries in Suburbia: Griffin Houses in the Sydney Landscape (ed, Walter Burley Griffin Society, 2015)

Selected Bibliography

Croker, Alan. Sydney Opera House Conservation Management Plan, Sydney Opera House Trust, 4th edn, 2015.

Hall, Peter. Epilogue, ‘Function is not a “Dirty” Word’, in Michael Baume, The Sydney Opera House Affair, Thomas Nelson, Sydney, 1967, pp 109–117.

             Letter, ‘“Dryness” of Opera Halls’, Sydney Morning Herald, 17 January 1967.

             ‘Monument into Building’, Progress at the Opera House, no 1, July 1972, pp 2–6.

             ‘The Design of the Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House’, Journal and Proceedings, Royal Society of New South Wales, vol 106, 1973, pp 54–69.

             ‘Sydney Opera House: The Design Approach to the Building with Recommendations on its Conservation’, Sydney Opera House Trust, 1990.

Hall Todd & Littlemore. ‘Sydney Opera House: Review of Programme’, 12 December 1966.

Hall Todd & Littlemore, ‘Sydney Opera House Stage 3’ (‘White Book’), February 1968.

Jones, Diane. ‘A Wing and a Prayer’, Architecture Bulletin, May/June 2010, pp 8–13.

Jordan, Vilhelm. ‘Room Acoustics and Architectural Acoustics Development in Recent Years’, Applied Acoustics, vol 2, 1969, pp 59–85.

             ‘Acoustical Criteria for Auditoriums and their Relation to Model Techniques’, Journal of Acoustical Society of America, 47: 2 (part 1), 1970, pp 408–412.

             ‘Acoustical Design Considerations of the Sydney Opera House’, Journal and Proceedings, Royal Society of New South Wales, vol 106, 1973, pp 33–53.

             ‘Model Studies with Particular Reference to the Sydney Opera House …’, in Robin Mackenzie, Auditorium Acoustics, Applied Science Publishers, London, 1975, pp 55–72.

             Acoustical Design of Concert Halls and Theatres, Applied Science Publishers, London, 1980.

Kerr, James Semple. Sydney Opera House: a Revised Plan for the Conservation of the Sydney Opera House and its Site, Sydney Opera House Trust, 3rd edn, 2003.

Keys, Peter & Brewer, Colin. ‘Sydney Opera House Progress Report’, Architecture in Australia, April 1968, pp 301–312.

             ‘Progress Report: Sydney Opera House’, Architecture in Australia, August 1968, p 644.

             ‘Progress Report: Sydney Opera House’, Architecture in Australia, October 1968, pp 814–820.

            ‘Sydney Opera House Progress Report’, Architecture in Australia, February 1972, pp 73–79.

Littlemore, David. Sydney Opera House. Anatomy of Stage Three Construction and Completion; A General Index, Public Works Department, NSW, n/d [1973].

             ‘Recollections’, unpublished MS, 1983.

Messent, David. Opera House Act One, David Messent Photography, Sydney, 1997.

Mikami, Yuzo. Utzon’s Sphere, Shokokusha, Tokyo, 2001.

Murray, Peter. The Saga of Sydney Opera House, Spon Press, London, 2004.

Sowden, Harry (ed). Sydney Opera Glass Walls, John Sands, Sydney, 1972.

Stead, Naomi & Moulis, Antony. ‘“Sydney’s Prometheus”: Myth, Representation and Remediation at Joern Utzon’s Sydney Opera House’, paper, Imagining …:, Proceedings of 27th Annual Conference of Society of Architectural Historians of Australia and New Zealand, University of Newcastle, 30 June–2 July 2010, pp 403–408.

Sydney Opera House: Nomination by the Government of Australia for Inscription on the World Heritage List 2006, Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage, Canberra, 2006.

Watson, Anne (ed). Building a Masterpiece: The Sydney Opera House, Powerhouse Publishing, Sydney, 2006.

             ‘Four Decades On’ (SOH lighting), Monument, no 88, December 2008–January 2009, pp 105­107.

             ‘After Utzon: Peter Hall and the Trip that Changed the Sydney Opera House’, paper, Cultural Crossroads: the 26th Annual SAHANZ Conference, University of Auckland, New Zealand, 2–5 July 2009.

             ‘Conspiracy or Coincidence: The Curious Case of the Disappearing Model’, paper, Audience: the 28th International SAHANZ Conference, Brisbane, 7–10 July 2011.

             ‘Divided Loyalties: Peter Hall, Philip Parsons and the Dilemma of Utzon’s Return’, Fabrications, vol 22, no 2, December 2012, pp 164–185.

              ‘“That Immense and Complicated Thing”: Peter Hall and the Challenge of a Career’, in Anne Watson (ed), Building a Masterpiece: the Sydney Opera House, 2nd edn (SOH 40th anniversary), Powerhouse Publishing, Sydney, 2013, pp 182–199.

             ‘Risky Business: the Exceptional Sydney Opera House’ in O’Neil, Charles, Human Dynamics in Construction Risk Management, Contract Dynamics Sdn Berhas, Kuala Lumpur, 2014, pp 35–40.

              ‘The Poisoned Chalice: How an Unsung Architect Filled Utzon’s Shells’, Meanjin, vol 74, no 4, Summer, 2015, pp 72–79.         

Webber, Peter. EH Rembert: The Life and Work of the Sydney Architect 1902–1966, University of Sydney, 1982.

             Peter Hall, Architect: The Phantom of the Opera House, Watermark Press, Boorowa, NSW, 2012.

Woolley, Ken. ‘No Room for Compromise’, Sydney Morning Herald, 21–23 March 2008, p 11.

             Reviewing the Performance: The Design of the Sydney Opera House, Watermark Press, Boorowa, NSW, 2010.

Yeomans, John. The Other Taj Mahal: What Happened to the Sydney Opera House, Longman, Australia, 2nd edn, 1973.