Doco on the house
House’s farewell concert, Nelson Mandela’s 1990 Sydney speech and an interview with Mark Hamill from Star Wars are among 24 hours of material which forms part of a multimedia online documentary on the background of the Sydney Opera House. The interactive doco, which has gone live, came about when the Opera House trust asked the ABC to make something that sums up this iconic building. ABC innovation creative director Sam Doust, who headed the project and wrote the 18,000 word script narrated by actor Lucy Bell, describes it as an ‘‘immense story’’. From day one, the story was controversial. In 1956 the NSW government called an international design competition and appointed an independent jury. Danish architect Jorn Utzon won. ‘‘When they saw the winner they gasped at the modernism involved,’’ Doust says. The NSW premier at the time, Joe Cahill, believed Sydney would not be taken seriously on the world stage without a proper opera house. The design solution and construction of the shell structure took eight years to complete – one of the most difficult engineering tasks ever attempted – and the development of the special ceramic tiles for the shells took more than three years. But after cost overruns – despite the Opera House Lottery that raised more than $102 million – community criticism and a change of government in 1966, Utzon resigned. Peter Hall supported by Lionel Todd and David Littlemore in conjunction with the then NSW government architect, Ted Farmer, completed the glass walls and interiors including adding three unplanned venues underneath the Concert Hall on the western side. The building was finally opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1973. Doust says after this, there was another story to tell, that of 40 years of performance and events, which he has shown through archival footage and more than 70 interviews. Part of the doco is the indigenous history of the site, Bennelong Point, which at the time of the building was the Fort Macquarie Tram Depot. The multi-platform narrative doco also uses interactive 3D mapping, video and audiovisual. It can be streamed free to PC, tablet, laptop or smart phone.
To view the multimedia package, visit theoperahouseproject.com