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19 wondrous opera houses

By: Angela Nelson on Aug. 18, 2016, 6:42 a.m.
Sydney Opera House in Australia

Photo: Hai Linh Truong/Wikimedia Commons

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Sydney Opera House

Completed in 1973 after 16 years of construction, the Sydney Opera House in Australia has won worldwide acclaim for its design and engineering achievement. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Danish architect Jørn Utzon, the building consists of a giant red granite platform topped with massive sail-shaped white shells — quite appropriate for its Sydney Harbor setting. The roof is tiled with more than a million patterned, ceramic, glazed off-white tiles that make it look like its glowing at night.

In contrast with the exterior, the interior uses bright splashes of color as Utzon wanted "to put people in a festive mood, and take them out of their daily lives," according to the Australian government. Though it's called an opera house, it's home to more than just opera. The building houses 1,000 rooms, including a concert hall, opera and drama theaters, a playhouse and a studio. Both of the main halls have large murals and curtains designed to reflect Australia's "vibrant energy" and its "natural and cultural life." And the famed Utzon Room is home to a wall-length tapestry designed by the architect himself.

The Sydney Opera House became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. The experts who evaluated it for the list told the World Heritage Committee that "it stands by itself as one of the indisputable masterpieces of human creativity, not only in the 20th century but in the history of humankind.”