sydney opera house in australiaIn the largest city in Australia – Sydney – a unique amazing building of world architecture, the Opera House, was built. The Sydney Opera House is a multifunctional structure, not just a building, but a work of art, the pinnacle of human creative genius.

Frozen Music Symbol

The building of the Sydney Opera House owes its appearance to the conductor from Great Britain, Eugene Goossens, who arrived in Australia in 1947 to record a concert of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra on the radio. The Briton was shocked that there was nowhere to place the opera, there was no building in the big city where people would come to listen to music.

History of an unusual project

Sir Eugene proposed to the state government to build a music house in Sydney. Inspired by the idea, Goossens chose a place for the opera and convinced influential people in Australia to join the cause. They decided to build an opera house in Sydney’s Bennelong harbor, on the water, on the site of a tram depot, which was moved to another location. The state government has announced an international competition for the best project of a musical house.

In December 1956, the jury, which considered 233 applications from 28 countries, rejected most of the projects and narrowed the circle of applicants. The chairman of the jury, an American architect of Finnish origin, Eero Saarinen, saw among the rejected a “clear favorite” – the Dane Iorn Utzon, whose work he liked.

The architect, enjoying unbreakable authority, insisted on the victory of his chosen one: the decision on the winner was not unanimous. On January 29, 1957, the winner of the competition was named, Iorn Utzon, who proposed to decorate the harbor with a building resembling a ship flying through the waves .

Australians’ opinion on the project

The extravagant, expressive system of either shells or sails, drawn by a Danish architect, caused controversial opinions among Australians. Some, admiring, considered the theater a magnificent monument to a frozen melody, while others were embarrassed by the shape of the roof, reminiscent of huge oyster shells or blown out sails.

Someone compared the roof with a white whale thrown onto dry land and nuns fighting for a ball. But no one doubted that the Sydney Theater was a man-made symbol of Australia.

The author’s intention

The Sydney Opera House is an example of expressionism in architecture. The building, surrounded on three sides by water, with a roof in the form of sails of different sizes, looks from a distance like a large ship docked in Sydney’s harbor. This is how the future theater was conceived by its architect. He said that he wanted to take the audience away from their usual routine into a fantasy world where actors and musicians live.

In 1959, the first stone of the future theater was laid at Cape Bennelong in Sydney, which was planned to be built in 4 years, at a cost of $ 7 million. Behind the external light and airy building, leading the viewer to the land of music, a titanic work and huge investments are hidden. 14 years and $ 102 million – this is how much it actually took to build an opera house.

Construction works

Permission for the construction of the theater was obtained in 1955, subject to a complete refusal of budget funding, the money had to be collected through a lottery.

The construction of the unusual theater immediately ran into difficulties. The area for the construction of the building was limited by water, the authorities of Sydney constantly intervened in the project. They demanded the construction of two additional halls, which were not originally foreseen. It was also not easy to make such a non-standard roof, there was no such experience in the world.

It took the architect years to find the right solution. Changes made during construction increased the weight of the building. The foundation built in Sydney Harbor had to be blown up and replaced with a new one. The construction technology turned out to be costly and complicated: there was no floating lifting equipment. Materials for roofing were delivered by special order from European countries. Each of the 2000 fixed roof sections was made according to separate individual sketches.

Due to the uneven height of the roof in the building, it was not possible to establish acoustics, therefore, sound-reflecting suspended ceilings were made , which were absent in the project. This required additional costs, construction proceeded slowly. The Labor Party, which supports the construction, lost power, and the money raised from the lottery was used to improve the roads.

The Sydney Opera architect was accused of unprofessionalism and forced to give up his most significant work in his career. In 1966, Utzon left Sydney for good. The construction was completed by young Australian architects led by the architect Hall.

Interestingly, during the magnificent opening ceremony of the theater in 1973, the name of Utzon was not included in the list of architects who built the Opera. In 2000, when Australia was preparing for the Olympic Games, the Australians invited Utzon to return and finish work on the theater, agreeing to do whatever he said. The architect refused.

Architecture – a combination of lightness and massiveness

The Opera House in Australia has shown a new perspective on architecture. The building is 183 meters long and 118 meters wide and covers an area of ​​22 thousand square meters and stands on 580 concrete piles driven 25 meters deep into the muddy bottom of the harbor.

The roof is 67 meters high and 150 meters in diameter and consists of 2000 sections weighing 30 tons. The structure is secured with 350 kilometers of metal cables. 645 kilometers of cable were used to connect electricity to the theater. Above the two main halls are two large shells, the other sails are above the smaller rooms. The surface of the dome is covered with 1 million glazed snow-white tiles shimmering like pearls.

The massive building weighing 161 thousand tons looks like a light sailing ship. There are no decorations on the facade. The glare of the sun and the movement of clouds reflected in the tiles, wonderfully brighten the façade during the day. Bright lighting at night turns the theater into a fairytale tower. The interesting and unusual facade of the theater has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2007.

The complex unites five halls with a capacity of 5738 people :

  • The Concert Hall is the largest venue with a capacity of 2,679 spectators. Here is the largest organ in the world, consisting of 10 thousand pipes.
  • The opera house, on the stage of which opera and ballet are performed, seats 1,507 spectators.
  • The drama theater is designed for 544 people.
  • The small dramatic stage is the most comfortable room for 398 people.
  • The games studio can accommodate 500 people.

In total, there are 800 rooms in the building, into which 2200 doors lead. It houses office space, rehearsal auditoriums, 4 restaurants and 6 bars, as well as shops and studios. The building is multifunctional: the venues of the opera house are opened when organizing festivals, concerts and performances of prominent personalities. In the small halls of the theater, weddings and parties, lectures and exhibitions are held.

Space Age Gothic Interior

The theater complex is one of the twenty man-made masterpieces of the 20th century; the building is recognized as an outstanding construction of modern architecture. Despite this, the magnificent construction of the Sydney theater inside is no different. The Australians explain this by the fact that the architect Hall, who is completing the construction after the departure of Utzon, spoiled the appearance of the building.

The premises of the theater are finished with wood and pink granite. The interior is made in bright colors in the style of “space age gothic”. The intricate layout of the premises is the subject of ridicule of Australians, who remember a funny embarrassment: a courier with a parcel, lost in the halls, went on stage during a performance.

white and brown concrete buildingOpera theater repertoire

The first performance at the theater took place on October 28, 1973. Fans of Russian music are proud that Sergei Prokofiev’s opera War and Peace was the first piece staged at the Sydney Opera House.

The repertoire of the theater is not limited only to symphonic music, realizing different numbers: from theatrical miniatures to film festivals. The Sydney theater program is constantly evolving and includes cabaret and comedy shows, children’s performances, theater and dance performances, as well as classical and modern music and films.

Keeping pace with the times, the theater offers digital creative learning, exposure to Australian history, and exclusive performances by talented artists and performers, musicians and politicians. The theater provides social support and assistance to visually impaired and deaf people – subtitles, a system for increasing the clarity of the sound, the ability to walk with a guide dog. It offers casual dining, late dinners and children’s menus.

The theater, which hosts 3,000 events, attracts 2 million viewers a year.The strategy of digital recording of performances with demonstration on television attracted even more viewers. The best innovation is the construction of an open area on the shores of Sydney Harbor for shows and concerts. The number of tourists coming for outdoor photography is impossible to count. Domestic excursions take place during the day.