Regardless of whether or not you see a performance, or at what time, it is well worth seeing the opera house at night – the view of the building illuminated above the river is stunning.
Australia’s most recognisable and popular landmark, it is easy to see how Sydney Opera House has earned a reputation as one of the wonders of the modern world. Standing beneath the enormous shells on Bennelong Point, the sheer size and majesty of the structure is simply awe-inspiring.
Sixteen Years in the Making
Plans to create a new opera house in Sydney were kick-started with an architectural design competition. Supposedly, Jørn Utzon’s entry had already been rejected by the panel when it was saved at the last minute and eventually went on to win. Variously described as featuring “shells” or “sails”, Utzon’s modern expressionist design was so radical at the time that there were many who thought that it simply could not be built. The significant technical challenges posed by the design took four years to resolve, and an increasingly tense relationship between Utzon and the government team responsible construction ultimately resulted in the building being completed 10 years behind schedule, and a staggering fifteen times over budget. While these figures were the cause of considerable public controversy during the construction process, the sheer visual impact of the end result was remarkably effective in silencing the critics.
These days, the opera house receives around four million visitors annually, and there are a variety of different ways of doing so. You can go to a performance, take a guided tour, or simply wander around areas which are freely accessible to the public, admiring the architecture and the gorgeous setting on the riverside. If opera isn’t your thing, don’t worry – the building hosts acts of all different kinds, and with up to 2500 performances a year, you will certainly be able to find something to your taste.
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