When: Built in 1956
Architect: Jorn Utzon
Cost: $ 100 million
Best Enjoyed: Theatre, the arts and free lunchtime concerts. offer spectacular bayside views.
The Opera House is the most enduring picture postcard image of Sydney. Poised on Bennelong Point, Circular Quay, this dramatic landmark is one of the focal points of the entire city.
What happened here?
In 1956 the government of New South Wales held an architecture competition, inviting entries from all over the world. The winner was a young Danish designer called Jorn Utzon, who proposed this unique building, which was to cost $7 million.
Utzon’s father was a naval engineer, and some have speculated that as a young boy, Jorn used to observe his father at work, sketching hulls and sails which influenced the design of the Opera House. Others claim the unusual shape of the building was inspired by palm fronds.
Whatever the origin of Utzonís idea, the project was incredibly ambitious. The building soon ran into difficulties as architects faced construction problems and budget blow-outs. Eventually in 1966, after political interference and bitter clashes between Utzon and his construction consultants, the Danish designer quit the project and left three Australian architects to design the interior. The Opera House was finally completed in 1973, after the government held a series of lotteries to raise in excess of $100 million to fund the project.
Sadly, Utzon has never returned to Australia, and has never seen the completed Sydney Opera House, one of the finest buildings of the 20th century.
What’s there to see and do?
The Opera House stages dance, theatrical performances, film and concerts, as well as opera. There are four auditoriums and the Performing Arts Library and Archives is housed here. Although the best seats are expensive, there’s often restricted view tickets available at a considerable saving.
At lunchtimes there are often free musical recitals or film screenings in the concert hall, and at weekends there’s jazz and other entertainment outside.
Tours of the inside of the Opera House depart every half hour. You should be aware that, depending on the performance schedule, it may not be possible to see all the auditoriums.
Official Website of the Sydney Opera House
The official site, with useful information on forthcoming events and bookings.
For Bookings, contact:
Box Office Manager, Sydney Opera House, PO Box R239, Royal Exchange 2000, Sydney Tel: +61 2 9250 7777
By Jess Halliday