When I visited my friend Sasha in Sydney, there was only one day of hard rain. Once I knew the forecast I planned to spend the morning taking the Sydney Opera House tour.
While I wasn’t able to actually attend a performance during my visit, I did get to have drinks with Sasha at the Opera Bar (one of my favorite memories from my trip) and almost every day we took the ferry from her apartment in McMahons Point to the Circular Quay and had the best view of the Opera House. When you get to sit out on the water and just stare at the structure you realize just how beautiful it is. The tour on the inside was just as wonderful and I learned some interesting things.
Sasha and I took a guided tour which was about an hour long. We wore headphones to listen to our guide so that he wouldn’t have to shout and it’s such a beautiful space that the yelling would have ruined it.
As we started walking through the building, our guide started explaining how the design of the Opera House came about. Danish architect Jørn Utzon submitted his design along with 200 other entries from other architects and Utzon’s design was originally rejected by three judges. However, a fourth judge came late to Sydney and looked through the reject pile and he was amazed by Utzon’s design and put it back on the table for discussion and it ultimately became the winning design and what we see today on the Harbour. I love twists of fate.
Not surprisingly the construction of the building took longer than expected and cost more than budgeted and this combined with a newly elected government caused a lot of mistrust of Utzon and his plans. He had no choice but to resign from the project and he left Sydney, never to see the finished Opera House. Kind of terrible, no? It wasn’t until 30 years later that the New South Wales government and the Opera House trust officially reunited Utzon with the Sydney Opera House and named a room after him, so thankfully there was redemption.
It’s all kind of an incredible story and when I learned that the Opera House relies solely on donors, supporters, and profits from ticket sales to keep the place open and maintained, it made me realize just how significant the Opera House as an architectural wonder and cultural icon.
I highly recommend taking the tour and seeing a show too if you can! Tours run daily and, according to the Opera House website, you can save some money if you book online.
Have you seen a show at the Sydney Opera House? What was it like?