|Sydney’s Opera House|
The history of the Sydney Opera House... A Drama in Itself!
Few structures are as recognizable as the Sydney Opera House, with its roofline resembling a flotilla of sailing ships. However, few realize that the building’s construction was as dramatic as the performances on its stages. In fact, it inspired a 1995 opera, “The Eighth Wonder,” which premiered there.
When the submission of Danish architect Jørn Utzon was selected in a design competition, no one knew what lay in store. Utzon’s design for overlapping sections was striking, but the architect had little idea how they would be assembled until he was inspired by pieces of orange peel.Before construction challenges were fully resolved, the four-year project started in 1959 with a $7 million budget. Disagreements over interior design, budget problems and a change of government followed. In 1966, Mr. Utzon walked off the project after government officials refused to pay his office fees. A team of novice Australian architects was brought in to complete the interiors. It ran into severe cost overruns and the Sydney Opera House Lottery was established as a means to raise public money so the project could continue.
The Opera House was finally opened by Queen Elizabeth II on October 20, 1973 — ten years and $95 million over initial expectations. The original architect had never set eyes on his completed building and eventually announced his retirement. But just a few months later, he agreed to start work on renovations. In 2003, at age 85, Jørn Utzon was awarded the prestigious Pritzker Prize for architecture.
At the ceremony, architect Frank Gehry said that Utzon “made a building well ahead of its time and he persevered through extraordinary malicious publicity and negative criticism to build a building that changed the image of an entire country.”