Beauty and the Bats

15 Nov

Last night I went with Jacek and Felicity to a wonderfully strange piece of theater called ‘Feasting on Flesh’ (I will give a full report later). I was drawn to it because its ad had two things that are big draws for me regarding theater – corsets and the Sydney Opera House.

I love the Sydney Opera House. Since I arrived here in late September, I have been there three times to see performances in three different venues within the house, and each time I love it more.  It is one of those rare theaters that is a good experience unto itself – although I haven’t seen anything there I haven’t liked (I think I’ll do a performance report thing soon), you could see the worst, most dull, offensive thing there and still come away feeling the evening was worth it. Let me explain.

Thanks to Daylight Savings, you will probably arrive at the opera house while it’s still light, and walk down Circular Quay amid a bustle of people arriving from Ferries, or going to the bars and restaurants right next to the water. The House itself is situated at the end of the harbour, so when you look out at it all you see are the white tiles of the sails against blue, and it is lovely, and far more beautiful than any of the photos, which somehow never quite catch it. The inside of the House is equally cool – the sails are supported by spines of concrete, so you get the sense that you are within the skeleton of a gigantic ancient creature of some kind. At intermission at whatever performance you see (which actually brings me to my one consistent problem with the Opera House, which is that despite the general high quality of the productions, the acoustics in all the theaters pretty much suck), you can go out on the terrace, or down to the bar, and your choice of view is either harbour, Harbour Bridge, Botanical Gardens, or Circular Quay, all of which are spectacular. And when you leave the Opera House at the end of the night, it will be lit up yellow, and if you look up, you will see clouds of flying foxes, the foot-long bats that fly from the botanical gardens to catch the bugs that are drawn to the light of the Opera House.

The Opera House thus, for me, represents all that I love about Sydney. Here is this crazy spiky building that nonetheless manages to be distinctly graceful, in which you can see an opera and come out and watch the giant bats. It is wild and earthy and distinct and civilized and beautiful and perfectly suited to its surroundings, all at once. I love it.

The Opera House, still not quite captured.

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