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  • Writer's pictureJane Ritzenthaler

Tour Day

Fortunately, the weather app was correct, and Sunday dawned bright and sunny, although a tad chilly. After fixing breakfast, I set out for the train station, and went to Circular Quay. A busy hub of wharfs, it was a buzz of activity. A Carnival cruise ship was docked at the wharf where I would later board the harbor tour, but at the moment my goal was getting to the opera house. It was a 10 minute walk along the edge of the water, the “boardwalk” filled with tourists, joggers, and families out for a stroll. It was a polyglot of cultures…Asians the most predominant, followed by Indian, but I heard languages I couldn’t identify, that seemed Slavic, or Russian.

I approached the massive opera house, and made my way inside to the guided tour area. The woman who led our group obviously loves what she does, because she brought the building and its history to life. And what a history! I wish I had purchased the souvenir guidebook, because I’m not going to remember all of the amazing details of the design and construction of this building. But here’s what I do recall: There was an international competition for design, which was won by Danish architect Jørn Utzon. And, as often happens, controversy and disagreements resulted in him stepping down, and the project was completed by others. Construction began in 1959, with an anticipated cost of $7,000,000. It was finally completed in 1973, at a cost of $102,000,000.

It is an incredible space. Lots of wood, from the brush box tree, on walls, flooring, just about everywhere! And steps. Miles of them. Fortunately, they have shallow risers, so they’re easier to navigate. But in heels? Not sure about that.

We were taken into the main concert hall, which seats 2600 people.

Improvements have been made over the years, primarily to acoustical adjustments. Those rose colored “petals” over the orchestra were added to deflect the sound downward so the musicians could more readily hear themselves (and others) and play in sync. At the back, notice the organ pipes. They’re the only ones visible of a 10,000+ pipe organ.

The Joan Sutherland theater, which is used for opera and theater productions, is frankly pretty boring by comparison.

It seats 1500, but is limited by virtually no wing space. But behind that black and yellow tape at the back is an elevator that retrieves scenery stored to levels below.

Here are some more photos of the building:

After grabbing a bite in the lobby cafe, I walked back to Circular Quay to join the harbor tour. I must admit it was quite a letdown after the opera house! Views of homes crammed together on the shore of the bays, hundreds of sailboats…but that’s about it. I did take the photo of the opera house from the bay, however.

I decided to leave my visit to the Royal botanical gardens to tomorrow.

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Amazing view of the Opera House.

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