Mary hosts the Opera House 40th bash

Mary hosts the Opera House 40th bash

Crown Princess Mary and Crown Prince Frederik at the Sydney Opera House on Sunday.

There were cheers and applause for Crown Princess Mary and Crown Prince Frederik when they arrived at the Sydney Opera House tonight but this night truly belonged to architect Jorn Utzon.

A host of dignitaries and a democratic audience of hundreds of members of the public who were lucky enough to secure the free tickets to the concert on the 40-year-old’s forecourt, gathered to celebrate the Sydney Opera House’s birthday and every time the Utzon family — many of whom were in attendance — were mentioned, a roar of spontaneous applause could be heard.

This was Sydney offering its thanks to the architect the city had controversially parted company with way back then and who never got to see his iconic work of art, now one of the world’s most famous buildings.

As joint patrons of the 40th birthday celebrations Danish royal couple Mary and Frederik seemed an ingenious choice by Opera House CEO Louise Herron who hosted tonight’s event.

Certainly the glamorous couple — Mary in a white opera coat over a sequined cocktail dress and Valentino heels — looked supremely at home sitting together with Sydney’s public watching an incredibly eclectic concert of aboriginal, contemporary and classical works representing the various art forms that regularly take place at today’s Opera House.

“The Sydney Opera House is a graceful urban sculpture….A symbol of national pride for both our countries,” said the Crown Princess in her opening speech.

Back in 1973 it was HRH Queen Elizabeth II who was the special guest at the Opera House’s opening, so it seems fitting that tonight we also had royal patrons headlining the event.

The program MC’d by actress Deborah Mailman included great moments from Sydney Theatre Company’s Wharf Revue who performed a very funny and irreverent history of the Opera House in five minutes, and haunting songs from Australian Idol winner Casey Donovan performing with Bangarra Dance Theatre, Megan Washington, and Sarah Blasko.

But the crowing moment came as it had 40 years ago with a powerful and rousing rendition of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony as the Sydney Philharmonic Choirs sang Ode to Joy.

The icing on the cake was Teddy Tahu Rhodes serenading “Happy Birthday” before the sky lit up with fireworks. A truly fitting anniversary celebration for Danes and Aussies alike.

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