Sydney opera House

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Jørn Utzon, 1918–2008

Sydney, NSW, Australia; 1958–73

It may not be immediately obvious what impelled an Australian city to make an opera house its most prominent feature, but the idea can be traced back to Dame Nellie Melba (1861–1931) from Melbourne, a diva of the first order, who was one of the first Australians to become an international star. With a prominence comparable to today’s Australian film stars, Nellie Melba gave the nation a presence in high culture that bolstered its selfconfidence in its dealings with Europe.

Dame Joan Sutherland from Sydney achieved similar prominence in the twentieth century. Bearing in ...

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