When was the Sydney Opera House officially opened
OcTober is springtime in Sydney, Australia, and the weather can be unreliable. But in the middleafternoon of October 20, 1973, a bank of menacing gray clouds had given way to a bright blue sky and puffs of cotton cumulus. A strong breeze blew, however, as Queen Elizabeth II stepped out of a ceremonial Rolls Royce with the Duke of Edinburgh and rode a canopy to declare Sydney architecture superb new open opera house.
Clad in a duck egg blue silk dress and matching hat – “much like an inverted veil from the opera,” one watcher commented – the monarch gripped the pages of her script firmly as the wind shook the platform. The speech itself was not without irony: “I understand that its construction has not been totally without problems,” said the Queen, referring to the majestic edifice in front of her.
Who designed the Sydney Opera House?
Australians, renowned for being as dry as their national hinterland, undoubtedly appreciated this royal understatement. The Sydney Opera House project, in preparation for almost two decades, had in fact been rife with controversy from the start. A competition to design the new building was launched in 1956, and the choice of Danish architect JÃ¸rn Utzon as the winner was divisive: some loved his futuristic design of white sails in the sun; others laughed at his interlocking system arched shells as radically impractical.
How long did it take to build the Sydney Opera House?
The opponents were right. Construction began in 1959, but was hampered by delays and cost overruns, many of which were due to the complexity of Utzon’s design. Originally slated for completion in 1963, construction was finally completed ten years later. The overrun was also mind-boggling – A $ 102 million was the final bill, up from an initial estimate of $ 7 million. Utzon, weary of endless bickering, resigned from the project in 1966 and declined an invitation to the opening ceremony.
But that day in October 1973, all those tribulations were forgotten. Sixty thousand balloons flew over Sydney Harbor, pigeons and white doves were released, and a million people swarmed the city’s public places. Marching bands marched through the streets and atop the opera house an Aboriginal actor recounted a reminder that the coastal site was once inhabited by Indigenous Australians.
What was the first performance at the Sydney Opera House?
The building itself had already hosted its first performances. Prokofiev‘s War and peace was staged on September 28 in the 1,500-seat Opera Theater (renamed after the Joan Sutherland Theater, after the famous Australian soprano). A day later, in the adjoining concert hall, Charles Mackerras led a wholeWagner program with the great Swedish soprano Birgit Nilsson. The Queen herself has attended performances of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and that of Mozart The magic flute, and was greeted by children dressed as koala, kangaroo and monkey.
Sydney opera house acoustics problems?
Almost half a century after the Sydney Opera House opened, much has been written about its design flaws. The acoustics of the concert hall – they would “do an airplane hangar a disservice,” actor John Malkovich said – were particularly problematic, and the hall is currently closed for improvements. The Joan Sutherland Theater has also drawn opprobrium – “unsuitable for opera,” in the judgment of Scottish director David McVicar, with a cramped orchestra pit and limited backstage. Some of these shortcomings were corrected during a renovation in 2017.
Why is the Sydney Opera House famous?
Yet the Sydney Opera House remains extremely popular with the public, nearly 11 million of whom visit it each year. And architecturally, it is now a recognized classic. âOne of the indisputable masterpieces of human creativityâ, was the verdict of UNESCO in declaring the building a World Heritage Site in 2007. âNot only in the 20th century, but in the history of the ‘humanity.
Best Image Credit: Getty Images