Sydney Opera House hits all the high notes

By Jay Chabon

The Sydney Opera House sails are one of Sydney’s most iconic landmarks but there’s a lot more to get to know about the Opera House on the inside.

With a range of leading arts organisations — including Opera Australia, Sydney Theatre Company and the Australian Ballet — calling the venue home, the events calendar is always stacked.

Irrespective of whether you’re a first-time visitor or repeat visitor, there are interesting experiences to discover at the venue all the time.

Here are some of the fun experiences to explore.

The Sydney Opera House Tour

Given the Opera House’s storied history of concerts, operas, dramas and ballets, tourists who visit the building inevitably find themselves immersed in a world of palpable arts and culture history.

The Sydney Opera House Tour, an hour-long tour that departs every 15-30 minutes, highlights this. It’s your green light for a ground-level vantage point as you trail an expert tour guide to various corners of the building. Get intimate with behind-the-scenes areas, explore the architecture and absorb the ambience of the famous theatres.

Your guides, who deliver the tour in several languages, know the history of the venue extensively. As a visitor, you learn how the architect behind the unconventional design, Joern Utzon, was inspired to see out his original vision and hear about the site’s many highlights.

You can extend the occasion, too, by up-splurging on a dinner or tasting plate. Others also try the dedicated backstage tour and, if you require support with mobility, there is a tour tailored especially.

The Sydney Opera House Concert Hall. Image: Koika


A lot of people have been moved to a lot of emotions at the Sydney Opera House. Count the fervent audience who took a shower in all the warmth of ‘voice of the century’ Dame Joan Sutherland at her farewell performance in 1990. Crowded House’s farewell show on the forecourt of the Opera House in 1996 was a suitably epic climax for the suitably epic crowd of 100,000 people too.

Whether you want to be moved by opera stars, rock bands, guest speakers or ballet performers, the Opera House stages 2000 events across 353 days per year.

Venues of various sizes — such as the Concert Hall, Joan Sutherland Theatre and Drama Theatre – are indicative of the eclectic flavour of performances and events staged.

With about 40 events per week to choose between, odds are high you’ll find yourself the perfect entertainment experience.

Image: Danny Fowler.

Eat and Drink

Pre or post-show food and drinks is a great bolt-on when you visit the Opera House. Leading restaurants Portside Sydney, Bennelong and Opera Kitchen all complement one another with the diverse culinary options they provide for visitors.

Whether you want something light (coffee and cake), family-friendly and relaxed (burgers and sliders) or fine-dining-focused (cured black pig ham and chestnut and truffle arancini), the Opera House precinct accommodates.

You can make food and drink your marquee event at the Opera House too. The Taste of the Opera House Tour is a hands-on eating and drinking trail you can enjoy for a four hours’-long overview of what hospitality at the Opera House is all about. It’s also an ideal way to get a more intimate sense of the building.

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