Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Happy 40th Birthday Opera House

I have vague childhood memories of the grand opening of the Opening House on the 20th October, 1973. That is, I remember seeing the images on the news and in the papers, but it was the Queen that seemed to be the focus.

The Queen coming to officially open the Opera House was all everyone could talk about.
It was a big deal - the Queen had only been to Australia a few times (& she was the first reigning monarch to visit us at all!)

Construction had begun way back in 1958 after Danish born architect Jorn Utzon won a design competition.

Sydneysider's watched in wonder as this unusual design took shape.

As the build progressed, Utzon revised and expanded on his original idea. This was probably only to be expected with such a contemporary, bold design.

However a change of government created tensions as the new ministers flexed their muscles. They began to question Utzon's design, the schedule and the costs of the project.

It all blew up in 1966, when Utzon resigned as head architect. Many Sydneysiders marched and protested, demanding he be reinstated, but the government ignored these calls and eventually Utzon left Australia with his family, never to return.

When the Opera House was finally opened in 1973, Utzon's was not invited and did not attend.

It wasn't until 1999 that a reconciliation was worked out.

A refurbishment of the Reception Hall in line with Utzon's design saw the NSW Premier Bob Carr rename the space the Utzon Room in 2004.

In 2006 the Colannade was officially reopened by the Queen after renovations created 9 new openings. The Queen took this opportunity to formally recognise Utzon's role and vision.

Utzon's son, Jan, represented him at this opening ceremony, saying that his father was "too old by now to take the long flight to Australia. But he lives and breathes the Opera House, and as its creator he just has to close his eyes to see it."


Utzon died in Copenhagen, at the age of 90, November 29, 2008.

According to the Sydney Top 10 "The Opera House's magnificent harbourside location, stunning architecture & excellent programme of events make it Sydney's number one destination."

For the latest news and events on at the Opera House click here.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy my personal snaps below of the Opera House from as many angles as I could manage!

I can still remember my first trip to Sydney after the opening of the Opera House. We came down on the train for a sister's dentist appointment. As we crossed the Harbour Bridge and saw the finished OH for the first time we were dazzled by it's whiteness.

The visual impact on an impressionable 5 year old has created a lifelong love affair. Every time I attend a show or performance there, I marvel at her beauty and elegance. Every time I catch a ferry into the city, I catch my breath at the sight of her, sitting quietly, serenely at the entrance to the most beautiful working harbour in the world.

View of the Opera House from Circular Quay (2013)

View from Dawes Point (2013)

From the Museum of Contemporary Art cafe (2012)

In 2010, believe it or not, Mr Seasons and myself are part of this crowd posing for Spencer Tunick!

Even Flat Stanley has visited the Opera House via ferry (2006)!

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