Sydney Opera House -- Tues afternoon 12/06/16

A very full and special day -- morning at Taronga zoo, and an expert-led guided tour of Sydney's Opera House in the afternoon, followed by an evening performance in the Joan Sutherland Theatre of The Australian Ballet's, Coppélia.  Can it get any better?  I don't think so.  Way to go, Road Scholar!

Yes, it is iconic, a veritable celebrity in its own right, the Sydney Opera House.

From the ferry, our RS group walked around Circular Quay to the elegant Opera House, where we'd meet up with our tour guide.  I was amazed, more like appalled, at multiple tour groups, thronged with loud people crowding the entry, strident voices all seemingly trying to outdo each other.  We were jammed slap in the middle.  What else would you expect, I suppose, when today it's one of the world’s busiest performing arts centres and Australia’s number one destination, with more than 8.2 million visitors, 363 days a year -- that's a whole lot of people.  Our tour tickets purchased, we waited our turn to enter.  A few groups followed ours, but the Opera House is large enough that, once inside, there's room for everyone. 

Above, we're checking out one of the large foyers which had installed a regal-looking purple carpet, perhaps to make the room look majestic.  A quirky story is on the Internet about Luciano Pavarotti refusing to step on this purple carpeting because, "in Italy, purple is an unlucky color, and it would be bad luck for me," tho I don't know if it's true.

Layered roof lines!  They look like sails.

Apart from glass curtain walls in the foyer, the building's exterior is largely clad with aggregate panels composed of pink granite quarried at the small town of Tarana in NSW, and interior surface treatments also include off-form concrete.  For the life of me, I studied and I looked and I simply cannot figure out how the inside is put together.

Designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, the building was formally opened on October 20, 1973 after a prolonged gestation beginning with Utzon's 1957 selection as winner of an international design competition. A long story between the initial stage and the final stage can be found all over the 'net.  Handsome native Australian white birch plywood and something called brush box glulam are used to good effect inside.

I wish I could fill you with technical detail, but I discovered this link that you can copy and paste in another tab, which gives a wonderful, brief overview, accompanied by the lilting music of Scheherazade.  From there you can go in any direction to explore further, and it's well worth the effort, IMO.


The Opera House isn't just one particular venue -- it hosts seven flagship performing arts companies: Opera Australia, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Sydney Theatre Company, The Australian Ballet, Bell Shakespeare and Bangarra Dance Theatre.

Tonight we sat in stellar seats to watch the Ballet's performance of Coppélia.  Mind you, we knew nothing of Coppélia beforehand, but it was a delight, and we had such a great time watching this family-oriented, comic ballet that premiered in France in 1870 ... so while we've been napping, it's been around a long time!

Standing between two of the largest shells (as they're called),
you can see why this section is affectionately known as "the cleavage."

I believe I mentioned in a previous post that the roof tiles actually feature a subtle chevron pattern, composed of more than a million tiles in two colors: glossy white and matte cream.  The cream tiles keep the roof from becoming blinding in direct sunlight (tho it can be bright), and the mix allows the roof to take on the shade of its surroundings.  The tiles are very striking seen in person.

Our tour took us all over the Opera House, up and down stairs, even into a theater where rehearsals were being held (very quiet, please), but as we entered, the troupe left for lunch.  When the tour was over, we returned to our hotel for dinner and to change clothes into something a little more suitable for "going to a ballet."  Since everyone is living out of a suitcase for a month, we didn't have fancy finery to wear, but we fit right in.  Dress codes have relaxed!

Jimmy is waiting for our evening performance to begin.
Of course, no photos were allowed in the theaters.

Not easy to get a nighttime shot of the Opera House because of all the extraneous lighting. 

The show ended after 10pm, and we joined the departing crowd inching along toward the exits.  Our coach was waiting coach for us on a nearby street, and we strolled along the quay into the lit-up and still warm Sydney night.  This would be a late night for us.  Wow.

Even the Harbour Bridge takes on a new persona at night.

So ended our superb day, almost.  Back at the hotel, we had to pack and be ready for tomorrow's departure.  Although we've seen only a fraction of Sydney, it has been smashing.  Where to next, you wonder?  Melbourne, and new adventures on Australia's south coast.


  1. I have never explored the Sydney Opera House as up close as the shots you provided, Nickie. Thank you so much! Of course, like most folks, I have seen the iconic image on the bay, but never thought about the interior, the materials, and the architecture in quite the same way. Wonderful. What a great day you had.

  2. That building is on our bucket list:)

    1. And I hope you get there ... it's a true man-made wonder!


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