Sydney Opera House: A Night With Basil Fawlty and Renee Fleming

Sydney Opera House: It is even more beautiful than in the picture books!

Sydney Opera House: It is even more beautiful than in the picture books!

Six and a half years ago when I made my first visit to the Australian icon known as the Sydney Opera House, I was impressed, to say the least.  In fact, that is an understatement as I was awe struck by how beautiful it was.  I mean, the way it gleamed in the sunlight was quite something.  Its shape was so perfect; the curves of the sail-shaped roofs looked even more impressive in real life.  I was also surprised to learn that up close, the roofs are made up of hundreds of thousands of tiles that are all painted in different shades of white.

A close-up shot of the Sydney Opera House roof shell.

A close-up shot of the Sydney Opera House roof shell.

One year ago, I enjoyed my first night at the Opera House  not with classical music, but with tomfoolery and British wit in the form of dinner theatre themed after the BBC classic Fawlty Towers.  I loved rubbing elbows with such a diverse and jovial lot around a dinner table inside the Opera House.  I struck up a conversation with a nice man from South Africa that told an amusing anecdote  about how he was mistaken for Dustin Hoffman in Carmel, California.  I also had an amusing back and forth with a pretty lady from Austria who seemed tickled pink that I was an American who pronounced Austria in the German language as Osterreich.  You never know what’s gonna happen when you’re seated with strangers at a dinner table.  What made that night most memorable, however, was seeing a trio of actors reenact the roles of Basil, Cybil, and Manuel: the three wacky denizens of Torquay’s most bizzare hotel.  Between the thick accents, Manuel throwing caution to the wind as he flung chives into our faces, and Sybil borrowing my Rabbitohs pin to prick Basil’s butt, it was a magical night!  I hope they’ll do a Young Ones dinner theatre show one day!  Can you imagine dining on fliet mignon and sipping Merlot while a Vyvyan look-alike verbally assaults a Rick look-alike?!  You Bastard!

South Africa's Dustin Hoffman?!

South Africa’s Dustin Hoffman?!

Basil Fawlty: the pride of Torquay!

Basil Fawlty: the pride of Torquay!

Sybil Fawlty: the one who wears the pants in Torquay!

Sybil Fawlty: the one who wears the pants in Torquay!

"Oh, Manuel! What shenanigans are you up to now?!"

“Oh, Manuel! What shenanigans are you up to now?!”

This year in 2015, the entertainment took a classical turn when famed vocalist and singer Renee Fleming was headlining a one-night only show at the Opera House.  To say that this woman is an amazing vocalist would be such an understatement.  In 2008, she became the first woman in the 125-year history of the New York Metropolitan Opera to solo headline an opening night gala.  She has won four grammys, celebrated a concert at the Berlin Wall in 2014 to commemmerate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall, and has performed the national anthem at Superbowl XLVIII.  For one night only, this amazing songbird would be doing a medley of arias and operatics from Puccini to Sheherazade to The Kind and I.  I, however, was all the way up in the upper balcony, or as they say in the sports world, the “nosebleed seats“.  In spite of this, I would not be deterred.  I dressed to the nines for that night.  I wasn’t sporting a tuxedo but I was wearing a crisp, white shirt accompanied by my South Sydney Rabbitohs tie and matching broach.  Because, why not?!  Even from that way up, her angelic voice echoed beautifully throughout the concert hall.  One more thing that is great about the Opera House is how amazing the acoustics are; I don’t know if it is the sail-shaped roofs or the high ceilings, but the sound just echoes almost perfectly!

Tonight, the Sydney Opera House will be filled the sound of music!

Tonight, the Sydney Opera House will be filled the sound of music!

When going out to the theatre,it is important to look your best!

When going out to the theatre,it is important to look your best!

My introduction to Renee Fleming came not from the opera, although I do love the classics, but from the 2012 hit film, Rise of the Guardians.  Fleming lent her voice to the film by singing the end theme, Still Dream.  A heartwrenching song that romanticizes the magic and innocence of childhood that goes well beyond the heartbreak of Puff the Magic Dragon.  In fact, it is one of the few songs that has ever made me shed a tear after leaving a lump in my throat.  The only other songs that have done that include Midnight Oil’s In the Valley, Polaris’ Everywhere, INXS’ Don’t Change, The Church’s Under the Milky Way, and The Magnetic Fields’ Why I Cry.  By the way, if you have not heard any of these songs yet, go have a listen and if you cannot feel anything from these auditory gems, than you are dead inside!  But I digress.  After seeing that film and hearing that theme, I then saw her pop up on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and doing the National Anthem at the Superbowl.  When I learned she’d be in Sydney for one night only, well, how could I not resist her siren song.  And after sitting through a 15-hour flight from Los Angeles, that night of classical music gave me a much needed remedy for that feeling of jet-lag.  BRAVO!

Sydney Opera House: much bigger on the inside!

Sydney Opera House: much bigger on the inside!

 

About admin

I am a graduate of Stony Brook University, and I have a degree in History. I am an avid traveler, with an extensive knowledge of geography, a passion for photography, and a knowledge of animals too. I enjoy pop music of the 1980's, fine dining, movies, baseball, basketball, and rugby.
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One Response to Sydney Opera House: A Night With Basil Fawlty and Renee Fleming

  1. Patricia Coats says:

    great article jared! :) i will get there someday…we keep having things in common..i guess great minds think alike?…i have inxs’ don’t change and the church’s under the milky way both on my i-pod at this moment! :) it’s like we were destined to become american bunny friends or something… :)

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