We’d long imagined our visit to the Sydney Opera House – a boat ride over the bay, strolling down the promenade in the sunshine, supping some bubbly and heading in to the famous concert hall for a sophisticated evening of classical music.
Well, our visit wasn’t like that, but it was brilliant.
We stepped out of our Sydney home, dressed to the nines (or as much as our packing allowed), to see dark skies and a deluge of rain. Undeterred, we took our boat (sitting inside) and then ran up the promenade, seeking cover wherever we could – which happened to be the excellent O Bar, where we got to sup our bubbly overlooking the illuminated Harbour Bridge, with just the occasional splashback of rain dampening our toes.
Once our glasses were empty it was on to the Opera House itself. The building has the quirky feel of the Barbican with unusual shapes and spaces, but despite its similar reliance on 1970s concrete, it manages not to feel dated. The vestibule areas inside are surprisingly spacious, so although we were attending an almost sell-out concert, there was plenty of room to enjoy a drink and take in the views – though all that space does make it feel oddly quiet for those of us used to London’s crowds and queues.
By a chance of timing, we were there to see the Last Night of the Proms, much to my delight and Joe’s horror. It was an authentic recreation, complete with all the fanfare, pomp and circumstance you could ask for. We couldn’t help but giggle when the concert opened with 2,000 Aussies standing to sing God Save The Queen – a wonderfully British moment almost American in its patriotic fervour.
There were Union Jacks everywhere you looked, though ours was comfortably the largest (thanks MJC). After an hour of light classical music and regular flag waving, the anglophilia reached new heights as the soprano soloist entered the stage and ceremoniously handed a large envelope to the conductor, our MC for the evening. “It’s a girl!”, he announced and the Aussie crowd erupted, cheering delightedly at the arrival of a new British princess. Perfect timing Kate!
All the bobbing, flag waving, green and pleasant lands of hope and glory culminated in confetti bombs and party-popper streamers. Our former colony contentedly sang along to the controversial lyrics of Rule Britannia, and while jokes abounded about the very British weather outside and our weird penchant for mushy peas, gags about colonies or convicts were markedly absent…