Besides the kangaroo, perhaps the Sydney Opera House is one of the most iconic images associated with Australia. Designated as the country’s number one tourist destination (8.2 million visitors a year and counting) and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Sydney Opera House should be number one on your list of places to visit when Down Under.

Catch one of the yearly 2000 performances that includes theatre, dance, concerts, opera, drama, classical and contemporary music from seven flagship art companies or if your schedule permits, spend a day at the opera and take a backstage behind the scenes tour.

Fourteen years in the making, the landmark structure with its signature sculptural concrete curves that resemble white sails (a fitting backdrop against the Sydney Harbour), was the creation of a relatively unknown architect at the time, Jørn Utzon. The Danish architect won an international competition to design a national opera house in 1957 that became one of the most radical architectural works of the 20th century. A true piece of art whose soaring presence literally defined the face of Sydney, Utzon’s concept of spherical shells became an architectural wonder and an influence for future buildings to come. Construction began in 1959 and mounting pressures eventually caused him to abandon his plans for the interiors and leave midway through the construction. Sadly, he never saw the completion of his masterpiece and Australian architect Peter Hall eventually designed the Opera’s interiors. In 2003, Utzon was formally recognized for his work with the prestigious Pritzker Prize for Architecture.

An intimate Backstage Tour allows you to take a journey through the rehearsal spaces, five performance halls and orchestra pit where you can see the world-famous shell tiles and private spaces not open to the public. The guided tour also tells the history of the making of Utzon’s work, delving into the creative process, revolutionary designs and the engineering challenges that baffled and intrigued the architectural profession for years. And a peek behind the curtain allows you to hear the personal (and sometimes scandalous) tales of the world of the performing artists. For history buffs, architectural aficionados and those who love culture, it’s a great day at the opera.

For more information on the Sydney, The Opera House & Bondi excursion, click here. To view Regent Seven Seas Cruises voyages to Australia, click here.

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