With several smaller theatres, restaurants and shops, Sydney’s iconic Opera House actually has a lot more going for it than opera (although the opera is pretty fabulous too). This is intended as a brief guide to the entertainments of the Sydney landmark.
First, let’s cover the food and drink options at the Sydney Opera House. While many of them are intended specifically as destinations before or after attending Opera House events, because of the Sydney Opera House’s central location at Circular Quay, they are popular as dining spots all on their own.
The Opera Bar, with it’s elegant, simple decor (you eat and drink at the bar) and Australian cuisine has a single, all-day menu and is open from 10am until late (certianly after performances let out and then quite a bit) seven days a week. It has a lovely outdoor area, and in Sydney’s summer is always jammed because of its spectacular views of Sydney Harbour Bridge. They only take reservations for lunch, during the weekdays for parties of ten or more
Guillaume at Bennelong is the showcase restaurant of the Sydney Opera House, having one many singificant dining awards and being situated, stunningly, in one of the “sails” of the Opera House. Reservations are a must for Guillaume at Bennelong which is open for dinner Monday – Saturday and for lunch on Thursdays and Fridays. Pre-theatre dining is available from 5:30pm, and post-performance supper is also offered.
There is also Bistro Mozart, run by the same folks who bring us Guillaume at Bennelong. Bistro Mozart is affordable, and is gear specifically to theatre-goers at the Opera House, opening two hours before performances, during intermissions and after performances.
Finally, for inexpensive harbour-sidedinging there is Sidewalk Cafe, which is open 8am until late seven days a week. This is good for a light, informal snack, and it also provides outdoor seating with views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The Sydney Opera House also has several shops. In addition to the obligatory Sydney Opera House Store which offers souveniers, books and recordsing, there is also Pure Australian Clothing Co. (all garments are 100% Australian made) andCostellos of Asutralia’s beautiful jewlery (they specialize in pearls, opals and diamonds),. Finally, there is the outdoor, Sydney Opera House Market, which is open from 9am on Sundays. When I visited there was beautiful handmade jewelry and custom work by an excellent milliner (and hats are a necessity in the Australian sun).
If you are looking to attend a performance at Sydney’s Opera House, be aware that it has several venues, meaning that multiple performances are going on simultaneously. In addition to a concert hall (over 2600 seats) and opera theatre (over 1500 seats), there is also the drama theatre (seating almost 550), the playhouse (seating nearly 400), and the studio designed for new music and contemporary performance (seats between 220 and 350 depending on how its configured). There is also an art gallery, and performances are also sometimes held in the Utzon room, and at the Opera House’s forecourt as well. If you are looking to attend a performance at the Sydney Opera House, before sure to check out their website to see what’s on. Opera, Theatre, Concerts and Dance are almost always on offer. Spoken word, works in progress and other unique performances are also often available.
Finally the Sydney Opera House offers tours (a regular tour package is A$23, but a tour that includes the backstage areas and requires reservations is A$140) which are fascinating for anyone itnerested either in the cultural significance of the works presented at the Opera House, or interested in the archtecture and history of the complex itself.
The Sydney Opera House features so significantly in our conception of Australia and Sydney as a tourist destination, not just because of its beautiful, unique architecture, but because it provides a central destination easy to get to by rail, bus and ferry, with a range of entertainments.