Monday, December 11, 2017

SAILS IN THE SUNSET, Sydney Opera House, Australia

Opera House, Sydney, Australia
The white “sails” of the Sydney Opera House, soar over the entrance to the harbor and are the iconic image of Sydney, the largest city of Australia. Like a giant, earthbound ship, they greet boats entering the harbor and provide a focus for visitors.
At the Sydney Opera House on a warm summer evening
We arrived in Sydney in early December (the beginning of Australian summer), and despite our jet lag after the 15 hour flight from Los Angeles, decided that going to the Opera House to view the sunset was the perfect way to start our trip. The plaza below the Opera House was filled with people taking pictures and enjoying the view while partaking of food and drinks from the tented concessions that lined the lower level.
To the west, we watched the sun sink behind the towering skyscrapers that dominate the modern city of Sydney, while across the bay, dramatic clouds filled the sky over the bridge, another famous Sydney image. Along the top of the span, tiny figures were silhouetted against the sky as they climbed to the top. (This is a popular tourist activity–but not for one for me.)
People appear as tiny ants as they walk across the top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge
The Opera House was designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, winner of an international competition in 1957 to design a ‘national opera house’ for Sydney’s Bennelong Point. His vision for a sculptural, curved building on the harbor was unique and broke radically with the cube and rectangular shapes of modernist architecture up to that time.
Tiled surface of the Opera House "Sails"
The grand opening was in October 1973. As we circled the point to view the opera house from another angle, we encountered a Canadian tourist who told us that he had been at the very first opera performance in 1973. Soon after the sun set, many of the people who had been lingering on the plaza streamed inside for that evening’s program.
Moonrise over Sydney Harbor, viewed from the Opera House
Meanwhile, we watched the moon rise to the east and waited for dark and the light show, Badu Gili, to begin at the top of the Monumental Steps. Badu Gili, meaning “water light” in Gadigal language, explores ancient stories in a seven-minute video projection of colorful images derived from the traditions of the local aboriginal people.
Badu Gili light show

From birds to sea creatures, people to abstract designs, the brilliant images moved across the curved surfaces like giant kaliedescope designs. They were spectacular. (Click above to see a 24 second clip of the Badu Gili light show.)
When the show finished, we descended the steps, took one last view of the Opera House and bridge, now lit up against the dark sky, and made our way back to our hotel for a good night’s sleep. It was, indeed, the perfect beginning of our trip to the land Down Under.
Harbor Bridge at night, with Luna Park amusement park below


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