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Issued Monday, 13 March 2006

THE QUEEN OPENS OPERA HOUSE’S FIRST CHANGE

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II today formally opened the new Colonnade at Sydney Opera House – the first change to the exterior of the building since its completion in 1973.

Remembering her visit to Australia in October, 1973 to open the building, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II said it was gratifying to be asked to perform her second opening ceremony at Sydney Opera House, and “one that does unique justice to the creator of the building, the great Danish architect, Jørn Utzon.”

Her Majesty continued to say that Sydney Opera House has become “the international symbol of the nation itself – a building to which visitors return gratefully, again and again, for renewed joy and inspiration.”

The New South Wales Premier, the Hon. Morris Iemma in his speech acknowledged the long process of reconciliation with Utzon after he left working on Sydney Opera House in 1966 following a series of disagreements with the then State Government.

Mr Iemma said: “We are proud of the latest addition to the Opera House and especially proud of the reconciliation with Jørn Utzon it represents and embodies.”

Jørn Utzon was represented at the opening by his architect son, Jan, who worked with his father on the designs for the Colonnade.

Jan Utzon brought a message from his father who, at 87 years old of age, finds it difficult to travel the great distance from Denmark. In his message, Jørn Utzon said: “It is hardly imaginable that we have the honour of having Her Majesty, the Queen, to be at the opening as she was at the opening of the Opera House … and this gives me a great feeling of the importance of this building.”

He continued wishing happiness to all the guests saying; “I will have, I think, a small tear of regret that we cannot participate – we are too old to get down there, but we are very happy with all that has happened to us with the Opera House and Australia.”

Jørn Utzon was re-engaged as Sydney Opera House’s architect in 1999 and the Colonnade is his second project, with the opening of the Utzon Room in 2004 – the building’s only 100% authentic Utzon interior.

The 45 metre long and five metre wide Colonnade runs along the Harbour Bridge side of Sydney Opera House. Nine openings have been created into the Playhouse and Studio foyers – six new large deep set windows and three glass doors. The foyers are now flooded with natural light and for the first time patrons enjoy harbour and city views.

Sydney Opera House Chief Executive, Dr Norman Gillespie, said, “Previously when patrons were in these foyers, they could have been anywhere, rather than looking out onto one of the most beautiful harbours in the world.”

“Now Playhouse and Studio patrons can enjoy the same views as the spectacular vistas from the Concert Hall and Opera Theatre,” he said.

The Drama Theatre, Studio and Playhouse were not part of the original brief given to Utzon and were not included in his plans. They were added after he left the project in 1966. As a result they did not fulfil his design principle that Sydney Opera House venues should have a sense of the building’s harbour setting.

When Utzon was re-engaged as Sydney Opera House Architect, he was asked to consider how to provide these theatres with a greater connection to their harbour surround. This is the second project completed since his re-engagement, the first – the Utzon Room, opening in 2004 is also the only authentic Utzon interior at Sydney Opera House.

As with the rest of Sydney Opera House, the Colonnade is an example of the highest level of workmanship. “The craftsmanship of the Colonnade and niches is absolutely first class, and certainly up to the standard of the craftsmanship expected in Sydney Opera House” said Jørn Utzon.

 

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Sydney Opera House

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Ongoing

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