About Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House is one of the most iconic buildings of the 20th century. It is the center of Sydney's skyline and culture. It was designed by a Danish Architect named Jørn Utzon and built in 1973. Since then it has become one of the busiest centers of performing art in the world. The Sydney Opera House is an amazing building. The architecture is studied worldwide. In 2007, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Where Can We See It?
The Sydney Opera House is located in Sydney, Australia, on the Bennelong Point in the Sydney Harbor. The Bennelong Point was named after the first Aborigine to speak English.
Building the Sydney Opera House
The design of the building was chosen as part of an international competition. In 1956, 233 designs from 32 countries were entered into the "Opera House Design Competition." In January 1957, Jørn Utzon was announced as the winner of the competition and was awarded the prize money of £5,000 (about $8,000 US dollars).
It took seven years just to build the model of the opera house and 17 years to complete the actual construction. The original construction cost of Sydney Opera House was supposed to be only $7 million, but the final cost came to $102 million! To pay for the construction, they introduced the Opera House Lotteries. The lotteries raised the $102 million to pay for the construction.
Why Did They Build It?
Before the Sydney Opera House was built, Sydney didn't have a building for large musical productions like symphonies and operas. Concerts were given in the Sydney Town Hall, which was too small. In 1947, Sir Eugene Goosens, a renowned composer and conductor from England, was appointed the Chief Conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. When he accepted his position, he told reporters that he would help to create a concert hall large enough for opera as well as orchestral performances.
Sydney Opera House was opened to the general public by Queen Elizabeth II on October 20, 1973.
Opera House Facts
- The Concert Hall of the Opera House has 2,679 seats and is the home of the Sydney Symphony.
- The Opera Theatre has 1,547 seats and serves as the Sydney home of Opera Australia and The Australian Ballet.
- The Opera House has a thousand rooms, including seven performance areas, five restaurants, and a recording studio.
- The main Concert Hall has the world's largest mechanical tracker action organ, which has over 10,000 pipes.
- Sydney Opera House conducts almost 3,000 events each year.
Legends of the Sydney Opera House
In the early 1950s, the conductor of the Sydney Opera House was Sir Eugene Goossens. He fell in love with a woman named Rosaleen Norton. Rosaleen, as it turned out, practiced witchcraft and was often referred to as "The Witch of Kings Cross." It was later discovered that Goossens secretly shared an interest in witchcraft.
In early 1956, Goossens was arrested by police with a picture of him and Rosaleen performing a witchcraft ceremony. This led to him being fired from his role as conductor. He ended up moving back to England embarrassed and disgraced. It was a very weird end to that part of the Opera House's history. The good news is that, since then, no more witches have been reported in or around the Sydney Opera House!