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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Incredible History of the Sydney Opera House

An  dramatic artistic photograph of the Sydney Opera House and some broad. And her halfa boyfriend.
We assembled for the Sydney Opera House tour and got hooked up with some earphones and a radio system on a pendant (makes a great Christmas gift!) to be able to hear the Tour Guide Sheila.

I was cheered to find another old guy like me wearing an old guy Saskatchewan Roughriders hat, complete with a matching Canadian flag pin. We had our pictures taken to be sent ‘back home’.

A lot of complex abstract thinking and planning went in to the Opera House, which was designed in the 1950s by slightly famous Danish architect Bjorn Henson Häagen-Dazs. His basic idea for the iconic building was a series of triangles, the inspiration for which was drawn from a cheese plate at an art gallery wine and cheese fund raiser event.

Häagen-Dazs played with explored the cheeses' shapes and sizes, and their relationships to one another, to infinite space, and to the last of the Carr’s Table Water crackers. The last few triangles of havarti were left out too long and drooped greasily with the heat of the men in last year's jacket and the too-much-perfume women. It was then that Häagen-Dazs realized that he should pursue a curvy design, rather than a pointy one. (From the drooping cheese, not the drooping art women.)

Architectural historians say that we should feel lucky that the little clusters of three and four grapes sprinkled randomly between the different cheeses had all gone by the time Häagen-Dazs got bored - otherwise Sydney might have ended up with a not-as-stunning design for a set of Opera Balls.
It's said that both Prince and Placido Domingo took one look at this lobby and ran out screaming. Prince additionally changed his entire wardrobe. Enrico Domingo was not present, but would have stuck it out, needing the work.
Häagen-Dazs won the competition for the design, beating out a number of competitors that had been inspired by the likes of Lego, Waffles, and pigeon-streaky windows. (Can you imagine if Sydney had ended up with the world’s largest Waffle House?)

Now the problem was to create architectural drawings that could actually be executed by a construction team. This is where cheese met reality and a number of concessions had to be made. Finally, in a fit of pique, Häagen-Dazs said ‘Fuck it’ (in Danish), took some pictures of a bunch of sailboats, and sketched the rest out on a gin joint napkin.

Matt, the Tour Guide Sheila

Das boat. Name - unidentified.
Our Tour Guide Sheila (a thin youngster with an Aussie accent as thick as a four-by-two) was named Matt (aren't they all??).

He did a good job, explaining all kinds of stuff and filling our ears with useless facts and figures, such as how many seats one of the smaller theatre facility has (398).

Key points we learned on the tour: the place is way bigger than you imagine; the symphony hall has a shitload of wood strip paneling in it; the design of the place is fully integrated, with the smallest details mirroring Häagen-Dazs’ original vision, right down to the toilet roll holders.

Like all such things, events didn’t go exactly according to plan - the original estimates for the Sydney Opera House called for a total design and construction cost to completion of $7M and 3 years of work. This stretched out to $2.3B dollars, and a total elapsed time of 76 years from cheese plate event to grand opening event.

Each of these tiles was hand polished by the 1987 New Zealand National Rugby Union All Blacks.
After the tour, we walked back through the Botanical gardens, taking a different route, so as to see different variations of the ReallyFuckingOld trees.

We had time to hit up the room for an hour’s break, and a rehydration program. And a chance to rest our dogs. It was a good thing - I was sore from the day before and really parched.

We had a third tourist box to check before nightfall - a trip up the Sydney Eye, high, high up in the sky, where fateful foreshadowing might come in to play. (Cue Sydney Opera House Orchestra.)

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