It took me 8 trips to Sydney to finally step inside the most iconic building of this city – possibly of the whole world. I’m almost embarrassed to confess never to have been here, so on the first of January 2012, I started the new year with this long planned visit to the Sydney Opera House.
I found out that to get a tour around some of the rooms, corridors and theatres is actually ridiculously easy.
Online (to get an extra discount, I’m still a stingy Dutch person), you can choose the preferred time and date (tours run daily and almost all day long), pay with credit card and then you collect the tickets on the day of the tour from the information desk on the first level of the building.
Both our families were over from Europe this month, so the ten of us huddle up in front of the green screen that will deliver us a group picture at the end of the 1 hour tour of the Opera House. We’re playing the role of excited tourist quite well I must say, and we cannot wait for the tour to start. We’re being given a headset and the woman that will lead us through the theatre does a quick check of the sound.
As we start the tour, it’s clear that the two little kids from the other family in our group seem to be more interested in their cool head sets and how fast they can run with it, than in the (rather sad) story about the Danish architect Jørn Utzon and the construction details of the Opera House.
Even with family tickets available, I don’t think this tour is very suited for kids younger than 8-9 years (depending on your child of course, but there is a lot of listening and silent walking involved, and a lot of great options for running up and down long corridors and flights of stairs).
It’s all in the Details
Our guide tells us a lot about the architectural details of the Opera House, shows us video’s about its designing and building history and shares some inside jokes about the shows and their (often famous) performers that played here in the past.
We’re told that they used to have someone catching ballet dancers jumping into the side wings of the stage (as stages around the world are usually wider than in Sydney) as every once in a while a prima ballerina would smash into the wall. (And we all know how hard it is to remove blood stains from pink tutu’s)
Or that one time when a Russian Opera singer got stuck in an elevator just before he had to be on stage and got so upset he sang the rest of the opera in Russian -instead of Italian in which the show was actually being performed. And nobody dare to tell him.
It’s these little facts that make the Opera House tour really pleasant to listen to and definitely adds something to the whole experience.
We were lucky to be able to visit both main theatres (sometimes there are performances on and the tour won’t take you there). We weren’t allowed to take pictures of the stages because there were people working on them, setting up props for the upcoming opera ‘The Magical Flute” by Mozart.
Both theatres are a lot smaller than I suspected from the outside, but apparently big enough to show the audience over 1600 performances each year!
Exit through the Gift Shop
We finish the Opera House tour in the Utzon Room, where the interior of the building is restored to the original plans of the architect. It makes a nice full circle with the beginning of the tour, even though the room itself is almost empty and only used for special occasions.
When we exit, we have a quick look at our group photo. One of us seems to be just a floating head, as he was wearing a green T-Shirt (just as the background we stood in front of). The projected image of the Opera House goes right through him. Ah well, it saves us about 30 dollars not getting the photo and we happily go and buy ice cream from one of the vendors outside instead.
While we quietly lick away, we keep watching the Opera House… still one of the most beautiful buildings ever designed. From the outside, but also (as I can finally say so now) from the inside.
Sydney Opera House (5-7 minute walk from Circular Quay Train Station, Bus Stops and Ferries)
Daily, between 9am and 5pm (tour takes about 1 hour)
AUS$35/$24.50 (Adult/Concession), AUS$29.75/$20.85 (Adult/Concession Online) and AUS$90 (Family: 2 Adults + 2 Children 5-16 yr)
Book online for the 9am and 9.30am tours and receive an Early bird discount (AUS$28 for Adults and AUS$20.30 for Concession). The tour is also available in English, French and German and a couple times a day, there are 30 minute tours available in Japanese, Korean and Mandarin.