An excellent variety of Sydney Opera House tours exist to choose from. Moreover, watching a performance at the Sydney Opera House is an experience that every person should aspire to have on their itinerary while in Sydney, Australia.
Sydney Opera House offers a range of affordable and memorable tour options for those who want a fantastic experience at this spectacular Australian venue. Whether you choose from a free outing, reasonably priced tours, or indulge in the ultimate VIP experiences, you can find something special that caters to every budget and preference.
I’ll recommend the best free, cheap, and premium tours available at the Sydney Opera House in this blog post. I will also provide a massive insider tip regarding the best choice to make when picking a Sydney Opera House tour, based on my experiences.
Awe-inspiring and spectacular, the Sydney Opera House promises an unforgettable memory. Whether your interests lie in opera, theatre, classical music, architecture, history, or simply relishing the vibrant atmosphere, this iconic landmark has something for everyone.
Alternatively, you can enjoy the stunning surroundings and bask in the enchanting ambiance for free. Just being next to the Sydney Opera House will leave you feeling like a VIP.
Best Sydney Opera House Tours
Top Tip: One of the best tips I can give you is that you can explore the interior of the Sydney Opera House without incurring any fees. While there are restricted areas that require admission, the Opera House’s entry is free of charge. So no matter what, you can enter the Opera House for free!
There are plenty of great Sydney Opera Tours to choose from. Let’s begin by looking at the most popular Sydney Opera House tour, followed by other incredible experiences you can have.
Sydney Opera House Guided Tour
This is the classic Opera House tour and a great way to learn about the history and design of the building. Led by knowledgeable guides, you’ll get to explore behind-the-scenes areas, including the main concert hall and the Joan Sutherland Theatre.
You’ll also learn about the many world-renowned artists who have performed at the Opera House over the years and gain a newfound appreciation for this incredible venue.
This is probably the cheapest tour you can do of the Sydney Opera House if you want to see as much as possible of the interior spaces.
Sydney Opera House Website: The Sydney Opera House Tour
Backstage Tour of the Sydney Opera House
If you’re interested in the technical side of theatrical productions, then the Backstage Tour is for you. This tour takes you through the back corridors and catwalks of the Opera House, where you’ll learn about the intricate lighting, sound, and set design that goes into putting on a performance. You might even get to meet some of the performers or crew!
Sydney Opera House Website: Sydney Opera House – Backstage Tour
Taste of the Opera House
Foodies will love this tour, which combines the venue’s history with an indulgent tasting experience. You’ll sample some of the Opera House’s best food and wine at various locations around the building, including the Green Room and Portside Sydney.
Sydney Opera House Website: Taste of the Opera House
Architectural Tour of Sydney Opera House
The Architectural tour at the Sydney Opera House is an exclusive experience where a guide takes visitors around the building’s operational aspects. It offers a deeper understanding of the architect’s vision, construction challenges, creative design, and innovative engineering. Additionally, rare and hidden areas of the Opera House are accessible, showcasing performance spaces and auditoriums.
The tour offers an opportunity to delve into this iconic landmark’s historical and cultural significance.
Sydney Opera House Website: Architectural Tour of Sydney Opera House
More Tours of the Sydney Opera House
Language tours of the Sydney Opera House
You can even do tours with a tour guide who speaks your preferred language.
- French tour of the Sydney Opera House
- German tour of the Sydney Opera House
- Spanish Tour of the Sydney Opera House
- Japanese Tour of the Sydney Opera House
- Korean Tour of the Sydney Opera House
- Mandarin Tour of the Sydney Opera House
Numerous tours are offered at the Sydney Opera House. In my opinion, to fully experience the Opera House, you need to attend a performance.
Performances offer a unique opportunity to see specific rooms, including the renowned Concert Hall and Joan Sutherland Theatre, which may not be possible during tours. Tour groups cannot access rooms during performances, so you may regret missing out on seeing a particular area when going on a tour.
Tip: It is advisable to book desired performance tickets well in advance, months before if possible, to avoid disappointment.
Concert Hall Tour
One of my best recommendations is to purchase a ticket for a performance inside the beautiful Concert Hall.
The Concert Hall is the largest of the performance spaces in the Sydney Opera House and can seat over 2,000 people. The hall is fitted with a custom-built organ with over 10,000 pipes, making it one of the largest in the world. The acoustics in the Concert Hall are world-renowned, producing exceptional sound quality.
This iconic venue is one of the most renowned in the world. Enjoying a musical performance in this breathtaking space is something you will never forget.
Tip: If you want a cheap ticket for a performance in the concert hall, buy a ticket in the very back row.
Concert Hall Design and Acoustics
Let’s discuss the Concert Hall’s incredible design with its soaring ceilings, awe-inspiring arches, and intricately detailed woodwork. Every inch of the space is carefully crafted to create a sense of grandeur and majesty that will transport you to another world. The Concert Hall is not just a music venue – it’s a work of art in its own right.
It’s not just the design that makes the Concert Hall so special. It is also renowned for its superb acoustics, which are among the best in the world. The space was designed specifically for music performances, with every detail considered to ensure that performers are heard at their very best. Whether you’re listening to a powerful symphony orchestra or the delicate notes of a solo pianist, the acoustics in the Concert Hall will bring the music to life in a way like never before.
And what kind of music can you expect to hear in the Concert Hall? Well, that’s the beauty of the space – it’s incredibly versatile. From classical music to jazz, from pop concerts to musical theatre, the Concert Hall has hosted an incredible variety of performances over the years.
Some of the world’s most famous musicians, from Prince to The Cure, have graced its stage. And with its state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems, every performance is given the technical support it needs to be truly unforgettable.
So, why should you buy a ticket to see a show at the Concert Hall in the Sydney Opera House? Whether you’re a seasoned music lover or just looking for a one-of-a-kind evening of entertainment, this space promises an experience that will leave you breathless. From its magnificent design to its superb acoustics and incredible variety of performances, the Concert Hall is a venue that should be on every music lover’s bucket list.
Joan Sutherland Theatre Tour
The best way to experience the Joan Sutherland Theatre is to see an opera or ballet.
The Joan Sutherland Theatre’s excellent acoustics make it the perfect setting for those soaring sopranos and thundering tympani. But don’t be fooled into thinking this is a stuffy, old-fashioned space. With its state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems, the Joan Sutherland Theatre is a cutting-edge venue that can accommodate all kinds of performances.
Fun fact: Did you know that the Joan Sutherland Theatre is actually built on a platform that sits on a series of springs? Yep, that’s right – it’s a floating theatre! This ingenious design makes it less susceptible to vibrations from passing trains or other disturbances, ensuring that the performances are always as smooth as silk.
Performances at the Sydney Opera House
The Joan Sutherland Theatre is designed to accommodate operas, ballets, and other large-scale productions, and it has a seating capacity of over 1,500. The theatre features plush seating and acoustics specially designed for performances of this nature.
Throughout the years, many renowned performers and productions have graced its stage, leaving audiences in awe. Here are just a few examples of the best performances that have taken place in the Joan Sutherland Theatre at the Sydney Opera House.
I went with my mother to see La Boheme at the Sydney Opera House. Although it was a great experience, it didn’t match her tastes, as she later told me it wasn’t her cup of tea, and I felt the same way. Nonetheless, the thrill of being inside such an iconic venue was absolutely priceless.
In retrospect, I did miss out on the chance to witness a Friday night performance of Don Giovanni. Regrettably, I opted for La Boheme the following night. Looking back, I wish I had chosen to see Don Giovanni instead, but there’s no guarantee that it would have been more enjoyable.
Performed by the Royal Opera House: This production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s classic opera was a highlight of the 2020 season at the Sydney Opera House. With exquisite costumes and a stunning set design, it was the perfect showcase for the incredible talent of the Royal Opera House.
Performed by the Australian Ballet: The Australian Ballet’s production of Cinderella was a whimsical and enchanting performance. With a score by Sergei Prokofiev and choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, it was a feast for the eyes and ears.
The Sleeping Beauty
Performed by the Paris Opera Ballet: One of the world’s most famous ballet companies, the Paris Opera Ballet, brought their stunning production of The Sleeping Beauty to the Joan Sutherland Theatre. With breath-taking sets and costumes, and extraordinary performances by the dancers, it was a must-see for fans of ballet.
These are just a few examples of the many performances that have taken place in the Joan Sutherland Theatre.
Dame Joan Sutherland
If you don’t know, Joan Sutherland was an opera singer from Australia who achieved international fame for her stunning soprano voice. Though she passed away in 2010, her legacy lives on in this breathtaking theatre, named in her honor. And what a theatre it is!
With a capacity of over 1,500 seats, the Joan Sutherland Theatre is the Opera House’s second-largest performance space, and it’s been dazzling audiences since 2012. Before October 2012, it was known as the Opera Theatre.
I took a picture of this painting when going to the var area during the mid-performance interval of La Boheme. It’s a tribute to the legacy of Dame Joan Sutherland OM AC DBE.
The wall plaque beside it shows that the tribute was unveiled on 16 October 2012. You can see it on the exterior wall of the Joan Sutherland Theatre.
Sydney Opera House Bar Area
During the interval of La Boheme, I decided to grab a drink at the bar, which was a welcome breather. As I approached the bar, I was struck by a grand firework display outside which was simply breathtaking. It was surprising especially since I wasn’t aware of any other nearby celebrations or events.
Did you notice the fireworks through the window?
Best seating in the Joan Sutherland Theatre
The seating in the Joan Sutherland Theatre of the Sydney Opera House is designed to provide an unparalleled experience to the audience. It is a horseshoe-shaped auditorium with seating arranged in three tiers. The seats are plush, comfortable, and provide ample legroom.
The theatre has a total seating capacity of 1,507, with every seat offering an unobstructed view of the stage. The acoustics inside the theatre are world-renowned, creating an immersive and captivating auditory experience. The stage is large and spacious, with a proscenium arch that provides a clear view of the stage from any seat in the house.
Tip: Loge seating is relatively cheap compared to other seating areas. The only problem is that some seats in the loge section only have partial views of the stage. You can see what type of views you can expect to see from the above picture. Still, I think the loge seats offer excellent value for money.
There are also private boxes situated on the two sides of the theatre on the top level, which can be hired for a more exclusive experience. The boxes come with an attendant who can cater to your dining and beverage needs.
Overall, the seating in the Joan Sutherland Theatre is luxurious and designed to offer a memorable experience for all patrons attending a performance in this iconic venue.
Inside the Sydney Opera House
When going to the concert, you can enter a light-filled room at the far end of the Opera House giving you a great view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Other performance spaces in the Sydney Opera House include the Drama Theatre, the Playhouse, and the Studio, all of which are designed for smaller, more intimate performances.
Apart from the performance spaces, the Opera House also features several restaurants, bars, cafes, and shops, all of which offer stunning views of the surrounding area.
The Opera House is also home to several works of art, with its walls and floors adorned with stunning murals, sculptures, and tapestries.
Overall, the inside of the Opera House is truly magnificent and boasts an architectural design and interior fit-out among the best in the world.
Views of Sydney Harbour
Here’s a great view looking through the window of the Sydney Opera House in the direction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Here’s another great view when looking out in another direction.
Sydney Opera House – Cheap Tours
I think buying a ticket for a performance is the cheapest tour of the Sydney Opera House that gives you the best experience.
Watch a short video of the Concert Hall before the performance to get a feel for what it would be like. Believe it or not, I only paid $26 for each of my two tickets in February 2023.
Concert Hall or Jane Sutherland Theatre?
If I could only recommend one show and the choice was between seeing it inside the Concert Hall or the Joan Sutherland Theatre, I’d probably recommend going and seeing a show in the Joan Sutherland Theatre. The concert hall was spectacular inside, but the theatre had that extra wow factor!
Here’s a photo I took of La Boheme opera at the end of the performance when the performers were taking their bows.
If you go and see a performance in the evening at the Sydney Opera House, don’t forget to take a great night photo of the Sydney Harbour Bridge afterward.
10 Best Things to Do at the Sydney Opera House
You now have a comprehensive understanding of all the free, cheap, and best tours on offer at the Sydney Opera House. Here is an AI-vetted list of the ten best things to do at the Sydney Opera House to confirm things and give you extra ideas.
Take a guided tour
The Sydney Opera House offers various guided tours that provide a behind-the-scenes look at the iconic building. The Ultimate Opera House Tour includes visits to the Concert Hall, Joan Sutherland Theatre, and the Opera House studios. Visitors also get to learn about the Opera House’s history and architecture.
See a performance
The Opera House houses several theaters that showcase various performances throughout the year. There is something for everyone from ballet to opera, from comedy to drama. Make sure to check the performance schedules in advance to book your tickets.
Dine at one of the Opera House restaurants
The Opera House has several dining options, including the Bennelong Restaurant, which offers contemporary Australian cuisine, and the Opera Bar, which serves casual bites and drinks. Both venues offer stunning views of the harbor and Opera House.
Attend a masterclass at the Opera House
The Opera House hosts several masterclasses that provide an opportunity to learn from world-renowned performers. These classes usually focus on opera, vocal technique, and musical performance.
Take a sunset cruise
Combine a visit to the Opera House with a sunset cruise around the harbor. Several companies offer cruises that pass by the Opera House, providing a unique perspective of the building and plenty of photo opportunities.
Visit the Opera House shops
The Opera House has several shops that sell souvenirs, books, and gifts. The stores offer a range of items, from opera merchandise to designer products.
Watch a movie in the Concert Hall
The Opera House occasionally screens classic movies in the Concert Hall. With its state-of-the-art sound system and large screen, this is a unique cinematic experience.
Take a yoga class
The Opera House offers morning yoga classes on the Opera House Forecourt. The classes provide a peaceful start to the day and a chance to practice yoga with an incredible view.
Attend a free event at the Sydney Opera House
The Opera House hosts several free events throughout the year, including concerts, talks, and exhibitions. These events offer an opportunity to experience the arts without spending a penny.
Watch the Opera House sails light up
The Opera House is particularly stunning at night when the sails light up. It’s a must-see for anyone visiting Sydney and provides a great photo opportunity.
I have to say this is pretty good advice. Refer to my post The Best One Day (Guide) for Greek Admirers if you want to see how great the Sydney Opera House can be when covered in the Greek flag.
Sydney Opera House History
I’ve left this for last because everyone should know a little bit about the history of the Sydney Opera House.
Danish architect Jørn Utzon designed the Sydney Opera House. It took over a decade to complete and was finally opened in 1973. However, the construction process was not without its challenges, with one particular story standing out as a testament to the perseverance and creativity of the people involved.
One of the Opera House’s most distinctive elements is its series of white concrete shells forming its roof. These shells, or “sails,” required a huge amount of precision and meticulous planning to construct, and initially, the job was given to an American company called Hornibrook Group. However, as the project progressed, it became clear that Hornibrook struggled to meet Utzon’s design’s demanding standards.
As construction continued, tensions mounted between Utzon and Hornibrook, and eventually, the building of the sails ground to a halt. In 1965, with the Opera House still incomplete and the costs rising, the project was taken over by the New South Wales government. But Utzon was unhappy with the new direction, and in 1966, he resigned from the project.
Despite this setback, the construction of the sails had to continue. The government turned to a local engineering company, Ove Arup & Partners, to help address the challenges posed by Utzon’s design. Led by a young engineer named Peter Rice, the team at Arup came up with an innovative solution: using advanced computer modeling to create a more precise design for the sails, which were then constructed out of precast concrete sections.
This new approach proved to be a game-changer. The sails were completed more quickly and with a higher degree of precision, than ever before. The construction cost was also reduced by almost a quarter, and the Opera House could open on schedule.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Today, the Sydney Opera House is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Australia’s most popular tourist attractions. It’s also a testament to the creativity and ingenuity of the many people involved in its construction, from Utzon’s original vision to the innovative solutions the team at Ove Arup & Partners dreamed up.
There you have it, the Sydney House Opera, with a guide to free, cheap, and the best tours.
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