After a restful day yesterday we felt energised to set off and explore some of Sydney's sights. Fortunately we had brought our brollies, as we battled through the rain to the free shuttle bus round the corner. This took us to Circular Quay. A rainy day seemed a good opportunity to do a tour of the Opera House – although by the time we got there the rain had lifted and the blue skies had broken through again.
Once inside, our guide showed us the concrete beams holding up the sea-shell roofs.
Out the window we could see some of these roofs close up.
We walked through the lovely foyer, and into the Joan Sutherland Theatre, which we were not allowed to photograph (though of course I saw quite a few people doing so).
The Joan Sutherland Theatre is used for operas and musical shows (and, I think, some non-musical theatre as well). Some of the staging was being prepared for this evening's performance of La Traviata. Our guide sat us down in the middle of the stalls, and informed us that if we were coming tonight, we would have to pay over $300 for these very same seats. There is seating for 1500 people in this theatre, but the stage itself is only 11 metres wide, narrower than in most modern theatres. So the sets have to be raised and lowered from the basement between acts, rather than being wheeled out from the wings as in other theatres.
It was interesting to learn about the design competition and the construction issues – finding a way to support those shell roofs was a major one, but fortunately after 6 years they came up with the aforementioned concrete supports.
Following our visit to the Joan Sutherland Theatre we went to the second major performance space, the Concert Chamber. The seating is configured completely differently from that in the Joan Sutherland Theatre, surrounding the stage rather than just in front of it. The stage was already set up for an orchestra. And because there were no sets that might have copyright issues attached, we were allowed to take photos.
Again we sat in the auditorium and imagined we were waiting for an orchestra to come in and begin tuning up. It would be a wonderful experience to sit up in the seats above and behind the orchestra where you could see each player taking their part in the concert. Maybe next time we come!
After the tour was finished we emerged to find the sun had come out for the afternoon, and decided to walk across the Harbour Bridge. This is something we don't have the opportunity to do in Auckland, as there is currently no footpath for pedestrians to cross the bridge (though various schemes for providing pedestrian access ways have been proposed from time to time).
From the Bridge we had some lovely views of the Opera House.
It was great to explore these two iconic sights of Sydney on the same day.