The Many Faces of the Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House

Growing up in Sydney, I didn’t give much thought to the Sydney Opera House, which today of course is one of the world’s most iconic buildings. To me, it’s something that’s just always been there, as it opened the year before I was born. I used to be one of those little ‘pests’ that would ride my skateboard up and down its embankments in my teens. Much later, however, I began to look at this sail-like structure a little differently.

I attended a few concerts there, from rock (Crowded House’s final gig in 1996) to classical and just recently, upon returning from a trip to Cockatoo Island, I spied its ten pale beaks beaming across the harbour beneath a somber sky. It was quite a sight. I began to think that despite being perhaps the most conspicuous building on the planet, the Opera House is a curious structure – beautiful in its own way – that has quite a history.

The Sydney Opera House
It’s been called many things, from the derisive “hunchback of Bennelong Point” during its construction (when it was considered a white elephant), to the more jovial “nuns in a scrum” it’s sometimes referred to as today.

Here’s 10 facts you might not know about the Sydney Opera House:

•    Danish architect Jorn Utzon was rejected by three out of four judges in a competition to design the structure in 1956. The fourth judge chose his entry out of 232 others and deemed it ‘outstanding’.
•    Mr Utzon never stepped foot inside the completed structure and never saw it finished.
•    In the 1980s, a net was placed above the orchestra pit after a chicken walked offstage during a performance and landed on a cellist.
•    Its ‘sails’ were built in France with specially designed cranes.
•    The Concert Hall’s Grand Organ is the largest mechanical version of its kind in the world. It has 10,154 pipes and took 10 years to build.
•    The roof is made with 2,194 pre-cast concrete sections. Each of these sections, which weigh up to 15 tonnes, are held together with 350 km of tensioned steel cable.
•    Arnold Schwarzenegger won his last Mr Olympia bodybuilding title here in 1980.
•    The building’s glass, which takes up 6,225 square metres, was built in France and is unique to its structure.
•    It contains 1,000 rooms (oooh, how I’d like to explore them all).
•    The Queen has visited the Sydney Opera House four times.

The Sydney Opera House

Have you been inside the Sydney Opera House? What was your experience like?  

6 thoughts on “The Many Faces of the Sydney Opera House”

  1. Andy, I agree that the Sydney Opera House is a fascinating part of Sydney. We have now lived in Sydney for 7 years and every time we visit the city area it is an integral part of our experience. We attended the Vivid Festival last year and loved the show projected onto the sails – such a perfect match!

    • Ah, I’ve never really seen a show projected onto the sails, despite all my visits (I enjoyed your photos). I reckon it’s a pretty perfect match for the harbour too Anne. Such a pretty spot.

  2. Like a person the Sydney opera house has its quirks and inadequacies. Shadow sides emulate the city it graces. Full of charisma, equal parts charm and beauty. The building is a vain nut job but gosh it sounds good in there plus it’s on the best real estate in the city 😉

    • Tofu,

      Yeah, it’s a bit of a funny one isn’t it? Full of dramas during its construction, to end up having a bit of a bleached punk look (which I don’t mind). And it does sound great in there.

  3. A friend of mine blew $1000 on dinner and fireworks at the (now being renovated) Guillaumes on New Years Eve a few years ago. She said it was worth every cent!! I’ve been to a few productions of various sorts over the years, and part of the thrill is actually the location!!

    • Hi Red,

      Sounds like a fun night out. I can’t imagine spending that sort of money at the mo though, as we’re saving for Spain. And yes, the location is bonza!


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