There was no true place for performing arts in Australia and this angered many residents. So Joseph Cahill set up a committee to raise money for an arts complex. Then, for more funding he established Opera Lotteries. With all the necessary funds available, the next step was a design. A competition was organized for the design of the complex.
The winner was Jorn Utzon with his design of a complex with sail shaped roofs. Building began immediately in March of 1957 on Benne long Point in Sydney. Many cost overruns and delays and even the elimination of the angels from the roofs drove Jorn Utzon to resign. The final cost of the opera house was $107 million dollars.
The opera house was completed in mid 1973 and officially opened on October 20, 1973. The opera house itself is absolutely marvelous. It has more than one thousand rooms, including five main auditoriums. The building also has features such as: five rehearsal studios, four restaurants, six theatre bars, extensive foyer, lounge areas, sixty dressing rooms and suites, library, artists lounge, administrative offices, and extensive plant and machinery areas. All these things cause more than two million people to attend more than three thousand events per year. The opera house is home to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Australian Ballet, and the Australian Opera.
The largest room in the opera house is the Concert Hall. It has two hundred and sixty-seven seats. The Concert Hall is used for concerts, chamber music, opera, choral concerts, pop, jazz concerts, folk concerts, variety shows, and conventions. It has excellent acoustics with ceilings of eighty-two feet in height. All the walls in this room are made of woods such as white birch plywood, hard brown wood, and brush box. The volume of this room is tremendous at eight hundred and eighty thousand cubic feet.
The Concert Hall is also home to the worlds largest organ. It was built by Ronald Sharp between 1969 and 1979 and has over ten thousand and five hundred pipes. The organ also has five manual keyboards, one pedal keyboard, eighteen adjustable, acrylic acoustic rings, and one hundred twenty-seven stops. With all of this, it takes about two seconds for sound to travel fully everywhere in the room. The next room is the Opera Theatre with one thousand five hundred and forty-seven seats.
This theatre is used for opera, ballet, and dance. The acoustics of this theatre are also great with a black ceiling so that audiences will focus more on the stage and an orchestra pit that holds seventy-five musicians. The Drama Theatre has over five hundred and forty-four seats. It is used mostly for plays and lectures. The ceiling in the Drama Theatre is black to keep attention to the stage, is low in height, and made of refrigerated aluminum panels.
The Playhouse room in the opera house has three hundred and ninety-nine seats. It is mainly used for small cast plays, lectures, seminars, cinema, and chamber music. The walls in the Playhouse are paneled with birch plywood. The newest addition to the opera house is the Studio. It has three hundred and sixty-four seats. This new addition is used mostly for modern performing arts and Contemporary performing arts.
All of these things make the Sydney Opera House world famous for its music, drama, events, and of course its world renowned design.