Friday, January 16, 2015

Sydney Opera House: controversial project sails proudly into architectural prime time


Tourists from around the globe tour Sydney Opera House, enjoy tastings and see plays, dance and concerts in many venues.  
After the tour, enjoy dumplings, oysters,
 shrimp; Below, the "sails" from under them.


IT RANKS with the architectural wonders of the world.
The Sydney Opera House is like no other building. Famous for its gorgeous shells -- resembling the ship sails which skirt and shift in the ocean below -- the building is far  more than an opera house, although grand opera is performed there.
It's actually a complex of theaters, rehearsal halls and more than 1,000 rooms of varying shapes and sizes.
Built on 4.5 acres for $103 million over a period of decades, the grand building is the product of a design competition in 1957.  The winner was Danish architect Jorn Utzon, who imagined a "living sculpture" that could be viewed from any angle, by land, sea or air -- with the roofs as a "fifth facade."
A windy day didn't stop Cookie and Keller. Here, to the right
of the Sydney Opera House, you can see the arc of the
famous Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The story is that the bold and controversial concept came to Utzon while he was peeling an orange, because its "sections" resemble pieces of the fruit.  This may be only myth, but it makes a good story.
Red steps lead to the Joan Sutherland Theater, one of the great opera houses in the world,
named after the great diva who was born in Sydney in 1926. The famed soprano died in 2010.  
WHAT IS true is that Utzon labored for years to bring the project to fruition, resigned in frustration, then after many more years was coaxed back.
Other facts:
* An Aussie design team finished the interior,  The completion of the pre-cast roof panels and "sails" was difficult to master.
* The opera theater, one of several performance halls, has had horses, donkeys and chickens on the stage.  The "Aida" production, however, used cut-out elephants. (A veteran guide told us that a chicken fell into the orchestra pit once, during "Boris Gudonov." The violinist shrieked but soon resumed playing.)
* Wedding receptions and parties can be staged in the complex.
* Australian born Joan Sutherland, a globally famous soprano, loved the venue and was honored a couple years after her 2010 death in the renaming of the opera house.
* This reporter saw the great tenor Luciano Pavarotti perform there in the 1990s.  Such memories.
WE LOVED our two tours, which included a stroll around the set for "Switzerland," a hit mystery play.  We marveled at the vaulted ceilings and pillar-free chambers. We felt elegant in the custom-made white birch chairs. And we feasted on sushi, prawns, dumplings and salmon as the sun set over Sydney Harbor.

Jeffrey Rockwell plays lively piano, Kevin Bailey is the
hard-drinking private eye, and Sharon Reitkerk is "The Blonde"
in "Gunmetal Blues" at North Coast Repertory Theatre.

The latest hit at North Coast Repertory Theatre is a sultry, slinky, fast-paced and amusing musical.  "Gun Metal Blues" lovingly spoofs the 1940s film noir classics we watch again and again.  Three gifted actors play out the action in the seedy Red Eye Lounge, where a jaded piano player, Buddy, guides us through the convoluted action with plenty of laughs and some beautiful tunes. See why we say "bravo," for this fresh, funny production.  Enjoy, learn and live! Please visit us Wednesdays and weekends and tell your friends about


  1. I finally caught up with you and your blog. Thanks for making it easy. Sorry about the loss of your friend. I know she was very special to you. She sounds like such a delightful person. So you have already climbed the Sydney bridge. Congratulations to you! Some of our group climbed it when we were there. It wasn't long after my hip replacement. Sounds like you are taking the day off. Will try to catch you later. I wrote a comment last evening that somehow got lost. It was real gushy about the sweet and talented person you are. I read a blog about your past. Hope this goes through.

  2. San Francisco ExplorersFebruary 3, 2023 at 12:32 PM

    We climbed this magnificent bridge and were enthralled by the views. Also saw Joan Sutherland years ago in the opera house. WOW! Thanks for fun story.