Wandering around Circular Quay, there seems to be a certain buzz in the air, I can’t put my finger on it my there is a positive energy floating around and although winter has come on strong this year, there are hoards of people walking around and observing the many light installations on the foreshore of the Sydney Harbour. We are in Sydney for the Vivid Sydney and the city is alive with a creative fusion of ideas, lights and music.
We arrive at the Sydney Opera House and are now out of the brisk early evening air and are greeted at the stage door by a lovely lady who announces that she will be our tour guide for the evening. We enter through the doors where many magnificent artists have also entered over the years.
This entry point to the underground working system of the Opera House is the only door in and out to get on stage and many greats artists have walked through these hallways. I get little tingles down my spine as our tour guide rattles off the names of opera singers, ballet dancers and even the likes international rock bands who have graced these walkways. I then realise how special it is to be on this tour and I am instantly at full attention listening to the history coming from the guides lips.
Walking down what is known are the central passage we are directly under the Opera House and this is where the life blood of this great performance structure comes together. It is the inner workings of all the theatres on stages up above and I look around to notice that all the crew in this great cavern are hard at work preparing for an evening of events just above us.
The guide leads us to a gigantic black door and explains that we are underneath one of the theatres and she is going to show us just how set are taken onto each of the stages. It had never occurred to me that there would be no room for wings on stage and everything would have to be kept underneath the Sydney Opera House. The large doors then slide open and we are greeted with the under workings of the largest hydraulic lift I have ever seen. The whole stage is lifted from the basement where we are located and assembled down at our level and then lifted into position. The performers also go through the same lift to get on stage and if there many performers onstage at once there are specially designer lifts that split the under workings of the stage in two.
I marvelled at the kind of logistics it must take to get a show from imagination, to creation and finally onstage at the Opera House. It is no small feat and I now have a great understanding of the efforts behind the scenes when I see a show at this picturesque auditorium.
We wander in amongst the corridors and halls under the Opera House and then finally walk a few flight of steps to arrive at the doors of a dressing room. This is what Elise is most excited about. She grins and looks at me with a smile from ear to ear and whispers “Ballerinas have been in this dressing room”. Elise has been a dancer all her life in this moment she is star struck at even been in the same room as many performers she has watched on stage in the Sydney Opera House. The room is a lot smaller than I expected but looks exactly as what I have seen in many hollywood movies. This is my first time seeing a dressing room, all lit up and ready for performers to sit and get ready before their shows.
The time has come to get a sneak peek of what it is like to be onstage at the Opera House. We are given access that would usually never be granted on a regular tour. We are allowed to get on stage for only a brief moment and look out into where the audience would be sitting. The crew are performing some last minute sound checks on stage and I can’t help but feel a little chuffed at what we are experiencing. When the tour guides mention that she has never been given access to these parts of the Opera House, you know we are seeing something very special that not many members of the public have seen or been.
We are then lead in and out of some of the smaller theatres all while gaining a wealth of information on the construction of this great iconic piece of architecture. I wasn’t aware that the designer Jorn Utzon was actually outed by the government at the time half way through the projects completion and replaced with two other architects to finish the job. Utzon who was so upset about the decision, he was to never return back to Sydney to see the completion of his most viewed design in the world. Since then, there has been a room named in his honour and is now used for special events and functions.
Our tour comes to a close and we get to enjoy our complimentary drink at the bar as we overlook the most beautiful harbour in the world. The lights are flicking over the water at Circular Quay as Sydney ferries are gliding past all the light installations for Vivid Sydney. We are now awaiting the show we have come to see, Karen O in Stop the Virgens and there is no better place to wait while marvelling at the beauty of Sydney has to offer.