The Sydney Opera House is a multi-venue performing arts centre on Bennelong Point in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It was conceived and largely built by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, who in 2003 received the Pritzker Prize, architecture's highest honour.

There is no doubt that the Sydney Opera House is his masterpiece. It is one of the great iconic buildings of the 20th century, an image of great beauty that has become known throughout the world – a symbol for not only a city, but a whole country and continent.

The Opera House was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 28 June 2007. It is one of the world's most distinctive 20th century buildings, and one of the most famous performing arts centres in the world.

The Sydney Opera House is situated on Bennelong Point in Sydney Harbour, close to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It sits at the north-eastern tip of the Sydney CBD, surrounded on three sides by the harbour (Sydney Cove and Farm Cove), and neighboured by the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Contrary to its name, the building houses several separate venues rather than a single opera theatre, the two main venues, the Opera Theatre and the Concert Hall, being defined by the two larger shells. The Sydney Opera House is a major presenting venue for Opera Australia, The Australian Ballet, the Sydney Theatre Company and the Sydney Symphony, as well as hosting many touring productions in a variety of performance genres, and is a major tourist attraction. It is administered by the Sydney Opera House Trust, under the New South Wales Ministry of the Arts

The Sydney Opera House is an expressionist modern design, with a series of large precast concrete 'shells', each taken from a hemisphere of the same radius, forming the roofs of the structure, set on a monumental podium. The building covers 1.8 hectares (4.5 acres) of land, and is 183 metres (605 ft) long and 120 metres (388 ft) wide at its widest point. It is supported on 588 concrete piers sunk up to 25 metres below sea level. Its power supply is equivalent to that of a town of 25,000 people, and is distributed by 645 kilometres (401 Miles)of electrical cable.

The roofs of the House are covered in a subtle chevron pattern with 1,056,006 glossy white and matte cream Swedish-made tiles from "Höganäs", though from a distance the shells appear a brilliant white. Despite their self-cleaning nature, the tiles are still subject to periodic maintenance and replacement.

The Concert Hall is within the western group of shells, the Opera Theatre within the eastern group. The scale of the shells was chosen to reflect the internal height requirements, rising from the low entrance spaces, over the seating areas and up to the high stage towers. The minor venues (Drama Theatre, Playhouse, and The Studio) are located beneath the Concert Hall, as part of the western shell group. A much smaller group of shells set to one side of the Monumental Steps houses the Bennelong Restaurant. Although the roof structures of the Sydney Opera House are commonly referred to as shells (as they are in this article), they are in fact not shells in a strictly structural sense, but are instead precast concrete panels supported by precast concrete ribs.

Apart from the tile of the shells, and the glass curtain walls of the foyer spaces, the building's exterior is largely clad with aggregate panels composed of pink granite quarried in Tarana. Significant interior surface treatments also include off-form concrete, Australian white birch plywood supplied from Wauchope in northern New South Wales, and brush box glulam

Performance venues and facilities

The Opera House houses the following performance venues:
  • The Concert Hall, with 2,679 seats, is the home of the Sydney Symphony, and used by a large number of other concert presenters. It contains the Sydney Opera House Grand Organ, the largest mechanical tracker action organ in the world, with over 10,000 pipes.
  • The Opera Theatre, a proscenium theatre with 1,507 seats, is the Sydney home of Opera Australia and The Australian Ballet.
  • The Drama Theatre, a proscenium theatre with 544 seats, is used by the Sydney Theatre Company and other dance and theatrical presenters.
  • The Playhouse, an end-stage theatre with 398 seats.
  • The Studio, a flexible space, with a maximum capacity of 400 people, depending on configuration.
  • The Utzon Room, a small multi-purpose venue, seating up to 210. It is the only interior space to have been designed by Utzon, having been renovated in 2004 under his direction.
  • The Forecourt, a flexible open-air venue with a wide range of configuration options, including utilising the Monumental Steps as audience seating, used for a range of community events, Live Sites, and special-occasion performances.
Other areas (for example the northern and western foyers) are also used for performances on an occasional basis. Venues at the Sydney Opera House are also used for activities such as conferences, ceremonies, and social functions.

The building also houses - A recording studio, five restaurants, four souvenir shops, and a guided tour operation.

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