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The Sydney Opera House: pure elegance

The Sydney Opera House in the harbour stands like a fleet of sailing boats billowing in the wind. In 1955, the Australian government commissioned a design competition for a new theatre and opera building; the winning design soon became a world-famous icon.

The creator of the futuristic building was Danish architect Jørn Utzon (1918-2008); his bold entry immediately stood out from the others. Utzon was an avid sailor and the big white roofs symbolize his love for the sport. It is also a wonderful reference to the location of the building in the Sydney Harbour.

The imposing Opera House
The imposing Opera House

시드니

The Opera House’s unique white ‘sails’

Tricky design

Utzon’s design was not easy to build. The construction of the white 'sails' turned out to be a huge technical challenge and it took 4 years to find the solution. The entire construction took 16 years. The Sydney Opera House was inaugurated in 1973 and despite its relatively short existence, it has become a beloved icon of Sydney and Australia. American architect Louis Kahn even said: "The sun didn’t know how beautiful her light was, until she saw it reflected on this building."

“"The sun didn’t know how beautiful her light was, until she saw it reflected on this building."”

The white roofs reflect the sun
Inside the Opera House

1600 performances a year

Year-round, the Opera House hosts musicals, plays, ballets and of course operas. There are approximately 1600 shows per year. The complex consists of 6 different halls that are praised for their beautiful acoustics. The largest venue is the Concert Hall. There is also a large outdoor area, the so-called Forecourt, where al fresco concerts are held. A lovely place to spend a sultry summer evening. An evening at the Opera House does not necessarily need to entail a theatrical performance or concert. On a balmy Sydney summer evening, the Opera Bar is the perfect spot for a bite and a drink, accompanied by live music. The large terrace offers great views of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.

The terrace of the Opera Bar

Under the sails

During the day there are various tours of the Opera House complex. The general tour gives visitors a glimpse into the history of the Opera House and explains the ground-breaking architecture. Those more interested in the magic of the theatre may also book a 'backstage tour'. During this tour, the curtain literally goes up and reveals the secrets behind the scene. Reservations are required as the number of tickets per tour is limited.

Take a look under the roofs

Photo credits

  • The Opera House’s unique white ‘sails’: gary yim, Shutterstock
  • The white roofs reflect the sun: Dan Breckwoldt, Shutterstock