The Sydney Opera House is celebrating 50 years

Like most people in Sydney, I have probably seen it thousands of times and been to it several dozen times. Yet despite its familiarity, the Sydney Opera House never fails to inspire awe and wonder.

Australia’s most popular “house” will be 50 years old in a few weeks Herald has kicked off the celebrations with a special 40-page magazine in today’s print edition. You can also read the magazine and its various articles online here.

Could Australia muster the creative spirit and political energy required to recreate a building as bold as the Opera House?

Could Australia muster the creative spirit and political energy required to recreate a building as bold as the Opera House?Credit: Wolter Peeters

The Heralds Helen Pitt loves the opera house (her book – The House: The Dramatic Story of the Sydney Opera House and the People Who Built It – is a ripper) and she was a natural choice to lead our beautiful commemorative magazine. Bryan Cook also did an excellent job with the design and layout.

As Helen notes, it’s hard to imagine Sydney without its opera house. It would be like Agra without the Taj Mahal, New York without the Empire State Building or Paris without the Eiffel Tower.

“It is such a part of the fabric of our city that it is difficult to remember a time without the huge, white-tiled sails,” Helen writes here.

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“It is certainly a miracle that it was even started, let alone completed. What if NSW Labor Premier Joe Cahill had not listened to Sydney Symphony Orchestra conductor Eugene Goossens about the need for a cultural center and been convinced of its benefits? What if Utzon had not taken part in the subsequent international competition in 1956 to find a design for it? What if a competition judge, Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen, hadn’t plucked Utzon’s entry from the pile of rejections and convinced his fellow judges to declare the Dane the winner? What if the women’s committee at the 1957 NSW ALP state conference had not persuaded the party to support the Opera House proposal, or if Prime Minister Cahill had not agreed to pay for it with state lotteries? What if Australian architect Peter Hall hadn’t picked up the pieces after Utzon’s departure and completed them with the help of 10,000 workers from more than 90 countries?

“Luckily we’ll never know.”

Led by Managing Director Louise Herron and Chair Lucy Turnbull, the Sydney Opera House team has planned a series of great events to celebrate the building’s 50th anniversary.

Justin Scaccy

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