When I visited Sydney during my first contract, I walked around the outside of the Opera House, but did not venture inside. This time, I decided I needed a proper tour to fully appreciate the landmark we docked across from week after week. My friend and I spent an interesting hour on a tour of the house with Oscar as our guide.
The most shocking bit of information I learned on the tour was the price of building the Opera House. It was predicted to cost $7 million over the course of 3 years. In the end, it took $102 million and 14 years to complete. The project began in 1958, but wasn’t finished until October 1973.
I had also not realized that there were multiple buildings and theaters. The Concert Hall seats 2679 guests, and the Drama Theater seats 550. The Joan Sutherland Theater, where the ballet and opera perform, seats around 1500, and has an orchestra pit that can accommodate up to 70 musicians. I work with just a 10-piece band, so 70 seemed huge!
Architect Jorn Utzon was chosen through a design contest. Many of his original ideas were not structurally sound, so the project was constantly evolving. The different sections that make up the “sails” on the exterior came from the same spherical shape—an idea that actually came from an orange!
The Opera House is the first prefabricated concrete building. The tiles on the exterior came from Sweden, and the glass used came from France. All other materials are from Australia, and are in their natural condition, not treated. In fact, the exterior tiles are never cleaned! They can be washed naturally by the rain.
Although this reads a bit like a report, the tour was a lot of fun! I’m very glad I made the effort to learn more about the beautiful Sydney Opera House, the youngest building named a UNESCO World Heritage Sight. I gained a new appreciation of the sight I was able to see every turnaround day. Next time, I WILL see a performance!