The Sydney Opera House is one of the world’s greatest buildings and a symbol of Australia. Only a few know the history of the creation of this building and the fact that the design of the building turned the life of its architect upside down.
In1968, architect Jørn Utzon lit a bonfire and set on fire all models and drawings related to this worldwide famous project. He no longer wanted to hear anything about the Sydney Opera House, and he never returned to Australia to see the completed project. In 2008, the architect died. The Sydney Opera House was completed in 1973, and it ruined his career and changed his life.
The Initial Idea
The construction of the Sydney Opera House was inspired by British conductor Eugene Goosens. In 1947, he signed a contract with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. The concerts had to be held at the town hall, so he gave the city authorities the idea that Sydney needs to have an opera house.
The idea of a British conductor was unexpectedly supported by the government, but the government did not want to fund the project. Prime Minister John Joseph Cahill proposed an idea of a lottery to raise the necessary amount. Sydney residents willingly bought tickets: sometimes they were sold for as much as 50,000 Australian dollars a week. Soon the amount needed to start work on the opera house was raised.
Following the announcement of the international competition, the organizers received 233 applications from 28 countries around the world. However, the Commission did not like any of the options. Still, a silhouette of a fantastic building painted in black ink reminiscent of a fan eventually won the competition. The author of the project was 38-year-old danish architect Jørn Utzon.
Difficult Construction and Intrigues
The idea, which looked so beautiful on paper, proved incredibly difficult to implement. It turned out that concrete roof wings, the most interesting part of the project, could not be constructed according to the original idea. The designers tested many variants, but all proved unsuitable.
Due to technical obstacles, the deadlines were not met. In addition, most materials were shipped from abroad, so the costs were growing. Lottery money was used to deal with the effects of the drought that happened in 1965. Due to general dissatisfaction, the then government resigned. The new government did not show much support for the construction of the opera house. It was then that the main intrigue, dreaming of taking the place of architect Utzon in the epic of the Sydney Opera House, Davis Hughes, the Minister of Public Works, appeared on the stage and longed for honor.
This man caused public dissatisfaction in the media. Finally, the new minister also suspended funding for the construction of the opera house. Utzon was on the edge of nervous exhaustion, as a result he announced his resignation on February 28, 1966, and left Australia. The minister appointed a new architect to lead the project, but Sydney residents staged a protest.
Finally, the Sydney Opera House was completed. The official opening took place on October 20, 1973, with Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and fireworks. Queen Elizabeth II arrived at the ceremony with her husband, Prince Philip. However, the architect was not invited and not even his name was mentioned. But the echoes of the scandal were mentioned in the speech of Her Majesty.