If there is one building in Sydney that has become synonymous with the city, it is the Opera House. It is a spectacle of modern architecture and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007. Aside from the stunning structure that makes the building one of Sydney’s main tourist attraction, it’s a popular hub for events and entertainment. Discover arrays of new talent across theatre, dance, comedy, music and much more.
History of the Opera House
The Sydney Opera House is located on a rock promontory known as Tubowgule to the indigenous people of the area, the Cadigal people of the Eora Nation. Tubowgule means ‘where the knowledge waters meet’. It was a gathering point for the Gadigal, where they sang, danced and told stories.
During colonial rule, it became known as Cattle Point, as it was a place used to store cattle. Eventually, the point was named Bennelong Point after Woollarawarre Bennelong, an aboriginal interlocuter that used to live on the promontory. Later, Fort Macquarie was ordered to be built on the spot in 1871, before this was then turned into a militaristic tram shed in 1902.
The site of the Opera House has had multiple purposes over the years but come the 1950s, there was talk of a new public works project. The Director of the NSW State Conservatorium of Music, Eugene Goossens, wanted a large venue for theatrical productions, as the Sydney Town Hall wasn’t considered to spacious enough. The state government sponsored an international competition to find a design for the proposed new venue and the winner was Danish architect, Jorn Utzon.
Utzon’s revolutionary, striking designs were, according to legend, originally rejected by 3 out of 4 of the judging panel but one of the judges, Eero Saarinen, who had to miss the first few days of judging pulled it from a pile of rejects. The Opera House took longer and cost more than expected to build, resulting in Utzon being dismissed from his own project. He was invited to collaborate on future updates and worked on the Utzon Room in 2011. The Sydney Opera House was completed in 1973 and has become an Australian icon since.