The grandeur of the Sydney Opera House

By Lauren Smith 19 August 2013
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In the year of its 40th birthday, the Sydney Opera House remains a revered Australian icon.

TRADITIONALLY, A 40th ANNIVERSARY is marked with rubies. At the Sydney Opera House, which turns 40 in October this year, it will be marked with Beethoven.

In a recreation of the opening night in 1973, thousands will gather at the beloved landmark to hear the Sydney Symphony perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.

The site on which the Opera House is built was first known as Tu-Bow-Gule and was a favourite fishing spot for the indigenous Gadigal people. In 1821, a low defensive structure called Fort Macquarie was completed.

History of the Opera House

Fort Macquarie was demolished in 1901 and replaced with the Fort Macquarie Tram Depot, which operated until 1955. Three years later, it was destroyed to pave the way for the Sydney Opera House.

Since its opening, the opera house has become an integral part of the cultural landscape of Australia. It now boasts some 8.5 million visitors a year – 2.5 million of which watch a performance or take a tour.

In the words of Martin Bernheimer, music critic for the Los Angeles Times who attended the opening: “This, without question, must be the most innovative, the most daring, the most dramatic and in many ways, the most beautiful home constructed for the lyric and related muses in modern times.”

To find out more about the early days of the Sydney Opera House, grab a copy of issue 116 (Sept/Oct) of the Australian Geographic journal.