Sydney Opera House Facts: Interesting Fun Facts Very Few Know

If the Sydney Opera House is a place where a fat lady screams at the top of her lungs to break your glasses, then there’s a lot you don’t know. This masterpiece has been the venue of rock concerts and even wrestling events.

Located on Bennelong Point close to the Sydney Harbor Bridge, the Sydney Opera House is a magnificent portrayal of human creativity. This building is a performing arts facility with seven venues and a thousand rooms. The venues include the Concert Hall, Opera Theatre, Drama Theatre, Playhouse, The Studio, and Utzon Room.

There are a lot more facts you should know.

Designer Jørn Utzon

1. Designs were taken for the Opera House through an international competition in 1956.

2. From 232 participants, the entry of architect Jørn Utzon was taken after much debate. It was rejected by three other judges at first. However, his design was accepted by the fourth judge, American architect Eero Saarinen. The judge claimed it was outstanding and the best design of the competition. 

3. The winner was finally declared to Utzon from Denmark. The architect received £5000 as prize money.

4. Utzon had never actually visited the site of the Opera House before the competition. He admitted that he used his naval knowledge and experience to understand charts of the harbor.

5. Although he was assigned as the chief architect of the Sydney Opera House, he resigned in 1966 after the election of a new Liberal Government, resulting in the termination of his payments from the Ministry of Works. Despite street protests demanding his reinstatement, Utzon left Australia.

6. In the late nineties, the Sydney Opera House Trust began communication with Utzon in order to appoint him as a design consultant for future engagements.

Inception / Construction

1. Foundation of the Sydney Opera House was laid in 1959. It was expected to end within four years but instead had an assembly period of 14 years ending in 1973. 

2. 10,000 laborers worked every day for the constitution of the most recognizable building in Australia. 

3. Although the initial cost of the Opera House was AUS $7 million (£60 million), the final cost ended up being AUS $102 million (£4.1 million), 14 times the original estimate. The final cost was mostly paid for from the State Lottery. 

4. The building of the Sydney Opera House is 185 meters in length and 115 meters in width. The complete site sits on an area covering 5.798 hectares of land. 7 A380s can sit inside the site wing-to-wing.

5. Constructed with over a million self-cleaning roof tiles, the ceiling of the building covers 1.62 hectares of the structure. The roof tiles were made by a Swedish firm, Höganas.

6. Each of the 2,194 pre-cut concrete sections of the roof weighs up to 30 tons and are reinforced by 350 kilometers of cables. 

7. If the 350km of steel cable used in the construction of the roof was laid end-to-end instead of being assembled together, they would reach Canberra from Sydney. 

8. The highest tip of the roof of the building is 67 meters above sea-level. This is equivalent to the height of a 22-storey building. 

9. Cranes were specifically manufactured in France for building the sails of the Sydney Opera House. The cost of each crane was AUS $100,000 (or £59,000).

10. The Sydney Opera House has a sum of 6,225 sqm of glass and a total of 645 km of electric cable all over the building. 

11. The topaz glass used around the building is custom-made by Boussois-Souchon-Neuvesel in France just for the Opera House.

12. The largest venue is the Concert Hall. This is the main performance hall and can seat up to 2700 people.

13. One of the largest organs of the world is located at the Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House. The Grand Organ is the biggest mechanical design of this instrument and is built with 10,154 pipes. It took ten years to build this instrument.

14. The smallest seating venue of the House is the Utzon room named after Jørn Utzon. The room can accommodate 210 people. The woolen tapestry upholstered is claimed to be made from enough wool that it can stretch all across to the city of Perth, a distance of 2040 miles.

15. The architectural framework of the Sydney Opera House is Expressionist Modernism. This is a blend of imagination, innovation, and new materials. 

16. The Opera House is said to be built on the basis of inspiration from nature, its forms and sizes. It includes minimalist objects like the wings of a bird, the shape of shells, clouds and walnuts, and also of palm trees. 

17. The Opera House was inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth ll on October 20, 1973. 

Activities

1. The Sydney Opera House hosts around 3000 events annually. 

2. The first performance at the Sydney Opera House was by a man named Paul Robeson in 1960. He climbed up the scaffolding of one of the buildings and sang Ol’ Man River to the construction workers who were on a break.

3. The first opera performance at the House was Sergei Prokofiev’s War and Peace on September 28, 1973.

4. The Sydney Opera House was initially popular for being a film-screening venue.

5. The Sydney Opera House is now one of Australia’s biggest tourist attractions. 10.9 million people visit the House every year. 

6. Around 1.2 million people visit the place to attend a performance. 

7. Every year, the Lunar New Year is celebrated grandly at the Sydney Opera House. This includes Mandarin tours, Lunar Lanterns, and red-lit sails with over thousands of guests.

8. A guided tour of the House consists of two hundred thousand people every year. 

9. The Opera House has hosted wrestling matches and rock concerts alongside Opera. Former actor, Arnold Swarzenegger participated in his last Mr Olympia BodyBuilding Championship in 1980 and won. The event was held at the Concert Hall.

Interesting Sydney Opera House you didn’t know

1. Every year, 15,500 lightbulbs are changed at the Sydney Opera House.

2. The venue is open 363 days a year to the public. Official holidays include Christmas Day and Good Friday. However, the staff works 365 days of the year, 24/7.

3. The Opera House is a place you can never go hungry or thirsty. It comprises three restaurants, a café, and an espresso bar. That is overlooking the fact that it has Opera and theatre bars.

4. During the final opening of the Sydney Opera House, architect Utzon was awarded a Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of Architects Australia. However, he was not present during the opening or the ceremony. 

5. In 1997, a French climber dared to climb to the top of the building without the safety of a net, ropes, or other devices. He only used his hands and feet.

6. The roof structures or “shells” of the Opera House were one of the challenging areas of the building’s architecture. Utzon mentions that his dimension of the shells was influenced by the peeling of an orange. The 14 separate roofs are said to be the peels making a perfect sphere when combined.

7. Humidity and temperature play an important role during the playing of musical instruments. The temperature of the Concert Hall is required to be 22.5 degrees for the instruments to stay in the ideal tune.

8. Seawater is taken from the harbor to power the building system. 35 kilometers of pipes are attached to circulate cold water both for the heating and the air conditioning inside the building. 

9. The orchestra pit in the Opera Theatre had a safety net installed after a fatal incident. In 1983 during a performance of Russian opera Boris Godunov, a live chicken required in the show walked off stage and fell on top of a cellist.

10. Along with being a venue for concerts and sports matches, the building was once the setting for the crime novel Helga’s web by Jon Cleary. One of the scenes involved a body hidden in the building’s basement. The book was soon turned to a film starring Scobie Malone.

Popularity

1. Sydney Opera House was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007. The organization outlined it as a “great urban sculpture.”

2. The LEGO company introduced two Sydney Opera House LEGO sets. One is from their Architecture range that contains 270 pieces. Another is from their Creator theme that contains 3000 pieces. 

3. The building was a venue for the 2000 Summer Olympics and featured triathlon events.

4. Sydney Opera House is the home of the national Australian Opera.

5. A special opera, The Eighth Wonder, was written about the building itself.

Conclusion 

An icon of Australian architecture, the Sydney Opera House facts embarking on the natural waterscape will always be the most highly recognized live venues. Be sure to add it to your next trip to Australia.

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