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Jul 20th, 2005, 02:24 PM
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Just returned from a whirlwind trip to Sydney to attend a performance at the Opera House. The performance was delightful and the singing was absolutely wonderful ( and no tenor let the side down) so I enjoyed it very much.
I have attended quite a few performances over the years at the O.H and each time I am amazed at the engineering ability and the beauty of the outside of that building - but oh dear, how dreadful, boring and down right out of date is the inside. It is like sitting in an air raid shelter with concrete all around and compounding the issue is that even the toilets have an ( out of this world }design for washing your hands which means that you have to press the water button ten times and you cannot stop yourself from taking a bath in the amount of water which goes over you and not down the plug hole - BUT it is the latest design!
Apart from the fact that you have to be a fit athletic type to get into the building in the first place with all those stairs and no lift I suppose that the designers think that by the time you have done that you will be happy to sit in any kind of seat during a performance.
We had dinner at the Bennelong Restaurant which has a fantastic few over Circular Quay and the city skyline and is without a doubt a first class location. In the first 10 minutes we had 4 waiters trying to take our order and that was the last we saw of them. The meal arrived and we were half way through it when someone came and asked us if we would like some bread, no one arrived when we had finished to see if we would like desert and the prices were something that would keep some African country in food for one week. The meal was OK but I guess you are paying for the view???
The Sir Stamford Hotel is a lovely hotel and opposite the Botanical Gardens in Macquarie Street with easy access to Circular Quay the Opera House and just about everything else. The rooms are nice and large as are the bathrooms and I was very pleased with it but for one thing - I don't regard myself as an African Violet and wished that I could have turned off the heating in the room - however opening the door to the balcony soon dropped the temperature but unfortunately raised the noise level. It does prove that if you are tired enough you will sleep even if its too the sound of traffic, hooting ferries and train's rattles.
The weather was fantastic, the harbour was wonderful and the whole Sydney thing is something I would like to do at least once a month. There were lovely little eating places all over the city during our second day and cheap as chips as well.
Finally to Jetstar: I feel that Qantas and Virgin must hate those of us who live in and near the Gold Coast as they don't have enough flights out of the GC to Sydney and the flights have been mainly taken over by Jetstar. What have we done to deserve this?
I hope that if there is another airline that has to go it will be Jetstar. I won't go into all the problems suffice it to say that it is cheap BUT it is nasty - perhaps not in comparison to some airlines overseas but certainly compared to what we in Australia expect from an airline.
lizF is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2005, 01:37 AM
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I hate jetstar !!!! and even the perkiness of virgin flight staff can grate on early morning flights !
Marko is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2005, 02:15 AM
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Agree with you Liz & Marko re. Jetstar. Raise rudeness to an artform.
Fortunately, it seems that Virgin have most bases covered where QF has pulled out in favour of Jetstar. This nonsense about forfeiting your seat & $ if you attempt to check in 1 minute past their 30 minute cut-off is utter arrogance. I wonder what % of their revenue that "nice little earner" represents!
Bokhara is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2005, 04:51 AM
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That's about as idiotic a review about the SOH as I've ever read. Sure the inside ain't nothing to write home about - but I go for the performance - don't you? Or maybe you go just so you can write clever, inane reports on Fodors. And if you are daft enough to eat at Bennelong for the view, well more fool you.

PS I've never had water spray over me at the washbasins in the loo - though I do agree it would have been better if function had prevailed over form.

fuzzylogic is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2005, 01:55 PM
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Fuzzylogic: since you are such a prolific, helpful and erudite writer (NOT) to this forum I will certainly try and do less idiotic reviews in the future just to make you happy. I am also grateful to you for letting me know that the reason I dined at the Bennelong Restaurant was for the view only as I was not aware of that also .
But just as an aside, I am entitled to my opinion of the Opera House however idiotic you think it is and if only one person from overseas stays away from the Bennelong Restaurant because of what I have said then I will be happy that not only have they saved some money but they probably have found a nicer place to eat as well. Had you, with your expert knowledge of the Bennelong Restaurant's deficiencies, written a report on this forum saying that anyone would be "daft" to dine there then those of us without your worldly wisdom and experiences would most definitely have stayed away - but you failed us in that area as well. Perhaps if you wish to be "catty" in the future you will keep it for the schoolyard where it belongs.
lizF is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2005, 08:41 PM
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I think I read somewhere that the Opera Theatre is due to be re-furbished, rehashed, re-somethinged. I haven't been in that theatre for a while, but it sounds like not before time. Concert theatre is a bit ordinary, too!

Haven't eaten at this version of Bennelong - but have tried previous versions, without much joy. You'd do better to do as Andrew David, J and I did - eat at one of those cafes along the waterfront there!
margo_oz is offline  
Jul 24th, 2005, 02:14 PM
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You are absolutely right margo_oz and had I not spent half the afternoon sleeping I would have had time too to go and get a nice "hamper" which I could have enjoyed while bobbing around on the harbour. Oh, how good is hindsight?
S'pose when it comes to Opera Houses I am a fan of the romantic style especially in the internal fittings of the place. The Opera Theatre is just short of being Art Deco really and reminds me of the days of Saturday arvo at the 'pitchers in the uncomfortable seats.
lizF is offline  
Jul 24th, 2005, 07:30 PM
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Hi liz-tks for your trip report. I enjoyed it!

I love the Opera House but agree with you about the stairs and the washbasins. We last ate at Benelong 10 years ago and it was fabulous. Times have changed!

We've had two great flights on Jetstar. Sorry they did not impress you. After Lao Air (will we land, and will it be on the on the runway?) Turkish Airlines (who dares to ask for water?) Aerolineas (has anyone seen a flight attendant?) Gulf Air (what's that smell-oh it's the toilets overflowing!), I guess we don't expect much. A seat, a seatbelt & I'm happy. Have fun!
Lyndie is offline  
Jul 24th, 2005, 07:34 PM
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Bravo to you Liz re your response to FuzzyLogic. I'm sure that although you may ultimately go for the perfomances you should also be entitled to some creature comforts and not the dated decor that the Opera House features. Although I must say I do get a kick out of some of the "ultra modern" designs.

Did you get a chance to eat at the restaurant at the Sir Stamford. For a hotel restaurant I think it's quite lovely. Certainly doesn't have the view of Bennelong - but the food sure tastes better.
Daneille is offline  
Jul 24th, 2005, 08:15 PM
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Thanks Daneille, I did get to eat at the Sir Stamford the last but one time I was in Sydney and it really was lovely. Thats why I wanted to stay there.
I am off to Tasmania tomorrow for some R&R for 10 days. Just have to get my fill of the finer things in life every so often i.e the food, the countryside and the wine.
I have packed all my woolies and wellies and don't care how cold it gets. So at least you all can have a rest from my rantings for the moment as I can never remember my ID for Fodors when I am not on my home computer.
lizF is offline  
Jul 25th, 2005, 12:10 AM
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There's no doubt that the Opera House works better as sculpture than as architecture - but what a sculpture, achieving the unlikely feat of matching the Harbour Bridge as the defining image of Sydney. The otherwise conservative State Labor government of the time made a brave leap in punting on Utzon. On the debit side, the obliteration of the harbour view at Circular Quay by the ghastly Cahill Expressway will surely guarantee the staunchly Irish-Catholic Joe Cahill a good stint in Purgatory (and that's coming from a lapsed Anglican).
Neil_Oz is offline  
Jul 25th, 2005, 12:28 AM
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Having been to the opera house a few times I agree totally that this place is Sydney, in the eyes of the world.
Whilst I was watching the cricket (Ashes) yesterday (well done oz) and the rain took over, tv aired a program documentary about the building of the opera house how it took 16? years to build and the costs went through the roof, it was a really interesting program. How it defied engineering logic and the trouble it caused amongst sydney residents and the development of a lottery to pay for it.

Despite all this it came through and is arguably the most recognisable icon in the world.

I love Sydney......

Mucky is offline  
Jul 25th, 2005, 05:35 AM
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Not so sure about that....the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, and the Pyramids would surely give the the SOH a run for the money.
RalphR is offline  
Jul 26th, 2005, 10:15 AM
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Remember the interior of the fabulous opera house was not done by the original architect, who had been hounded out of town for cost overruns by then. His interior plans were thrown away and replaced by a cheapo design by gov't employees IIRC. Last I heard the refurb was trying find original plans and involve the original architect without much success
viking is offline  
Jul 26th, 2005, 01:23 PM
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That's right, Viking. The plebs who masqueraded as the government of the day dumped Utzen and treated him in an appalling manner. I believe his son is now collaborating on the current project to update the interior incorporating at least some of his Father's original plans.

There was a fascinating exhibition of the plans, models and progress (stops/starts as the wrangling ensued) not so long ago. I believe the major reason for the long construction time (and probably most of the cost over-runs too if truth be told) was that the state gov't bods (who couldn't run a chook raffle on a Saturday night let alone something like the OH) kept meddling in it, demanding that Utzen change the design/materials etc. And then, of course, when he did leave they had to run around & find someone else to try & finish it - without the Architect's inner vision. It's a miracle we didn't end up with the architectural version of a ten humped camel!

Despite all that, I think we ended up with an absolutely sensational building. I wouldn't care if it had cost 4 times what it did! And, yes, I agree that the interior does have its limitations. But, when I'm sitting in the concert hall listening & watching that organ in full flight or in the Opera theatre as I was a couple of weeks ago seeing something fabulous (Nabuco), or Graeme Murphy's "Grand", ... I don't even notice the shortcomings.

Oh and BTW, I've had 2 recent experiences at Benelong. Pre-theatre dinner was v.good. Drinks before Grand excellent EXCEPT that the waiters told us Grand was on in the Concert Hall (our friends had the tix so we couldn't check). So we watched the crowd in the concert hall foyer and when they started to move, strolled across. Only to discover that we'd missed the first 10 minutes of Grand which was across the way in the Opera Theatre.(LOL) Serves us right and were slipped in at the back, so no harm done. A small(ish) thing - but Guillieme and/the OH management do need to make sure all floor staff know what's on where and when. How hard would it be to provide each POS with a printed list of the day's performances?

And, while I'm still on my soapbox ... I LOATHE the toaster - but think the colonaded walk and all those cafes, shops & restaurants along the way from the Quay are great. It's so good to see everyone out enjoying the alfresco lifestyle day & night in what was a pretty dingy walk. There's something for virtually every taste & budget and you can't beat the views & atosphere.

Bokhara is offline  
Jul 26th, 2005, 08:24 PM
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Hi Bokhara , I am with you re the Toaster. I thought at the time it was a disgrace and those that agreed to it were Philistines. I must admit that I have had to change my mind. I still think it is awful that the view of the Opera House is blocked until you are almost on top of it. However they have done a great job of improving the life and feeling of the area and when you are finally hit with the sight of the OH it is quite uplifting. The outside is stunning but the internal is pretty ordinary. Hopefully Utzon's son will bring back something of the original dream.
Peteralan is offline  
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