Mevrouw T and I don’t do this often enough. A thoughtful Christmas present was two tickets to a Sydney Symphony Orchestra concert.
A rare trip to the iconic Sydney Opera House at night reminded us what a special building it is, and what a spectacular location it enjoys.
It must surely be one of the most recognisable buildings in the world – up there with the pyramids, the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building. (Any other suggestions for iconic structures?)
According to Wikipedia, seven million people visit it each year, 300,000 do a guided tour, and 1.2 million attend the 1500 performances held in its five main theatres (The Concert Hall, Joan Sutherland Theatre, Drama Theatre, Playhouse and Studio).
Its construction, its cost overruns and the disputes between the NSW government and Danish architect Jorn Utzon, leading to his resignation, are the stuff of legend. It is tragic that, despite a later reconciliation, Utzon never returned to Australia to see his finished masterpiece.
It is probably inevitable that it’s far more spectacular on the outside than on the inside. The exterior is hard to beat. Inside it is more conventional.
On the one occasion that I’ve produced a play there (admittedly over 20 years ago), we found the facilities for getting sets up lifts and into the Concert Hall awkward. The Drama Theatre and Playhouse, where we’ve seen many productions, are perfectly acceptable though not particularly special theatres.
We enjoyed a fine SSO concert – sorry if you missed it, you should have been there, it’s over now so there’s no point in my describing it.
But the special magic of any night at the Opera House comes at interval and after the show, when audiences spill out onto the balconies and into the bars and restaurants of the Concourse with Sydney Harbour and the Toast Rack lit up before them.
I should be a hardened old thespian by now, but I never fail to get a buzz out of this.
And finally, a little pre-show plug…
If you have kids and will be in Sydney in September-October this year, you can introduce them to the Opera House experience by bringing them to see my play, an adaptation of Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton’s weird, wacky and fiendishly funny book, The 13-Storey Treehouse.
Tickets on sale now. All good, silly, imaginative family fun!