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Saturday, January 21, 2006

A Welsh icon

The Sydney Opera House

When the Wales Millennium Centre was opened it was hailed as Wales' answer to the Sydney Opera House. Certainly, although it looks like a mollusc from the outside, the interior is fantastic and well worth a visit.

The Mollusc

The important thing is to ensure that we keep our new landmark building in a state of good repair. In Swansea, where I am a Councillor, we have had more than enough experience of the cost of failing to do so. For want of a million pounds of maintenance less than ten years ago we are now having to spend £25 million on rebuilding our leisure centre. The indications are that Swansea Guildhall, a grade one listed building, will also require maintenance and repair work in excess of that figure and the list goes on.

According to Senator Andrew Bartlett, the Australians have fallen into this trap as well. They need to find $700 million to restore and refurbish the opera house. Andrew also debunks some myths about this Australian icon in his blog:

I know the Opera House is a striking, iconic building from the outside, and its roof may well be an engineering marvel. However, as an actual building for opera, it sounds like a dud. The acoustics are bad, one quarter of the seats have obstructed or poor sightlines, the orchestra pit is too small and has bad sound and the wings of the stage are too small for dancers. In short, Sydney has an Opera House which is crap for opera – and pretty much all other musical performances. Sounds like a real wonder of the world to me! Well worth another $700 million.

These are not criticisms that can be levelled at the Wales Millennium Centre. Perhaps we have surpassed Sydney after all.
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