Speech at the Gala Concert, Sydney Opera House on October 27, 2013
Your Excellency Professor Marie Bashir, Governor of New South Wales, Ministers of the State, Federal and Danish Governments, Louise Herron, CEO and John Symond, Chairman of the Sydney Opera House, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is now just over 10 years that the Crown Prince and I got engaged. At this time, I was asked by a journalist: What did I know about Denmark before meeting my future husband? I replied: Hans Christian Andersen and that the Sydney Opera House was designed by a Dane.
And today, we are celebrating the masterpiece of timeless beauty and simplicity designed by ‘that’ Dane, architect – Jørn Utzon.
It is an enormous pleasure and honour for the Crown Prince and me to be here as patrons of the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Sydney Opera House. And we bring with us the warmest congratulations from Her Majesty The Queen of Denmark and His Royal Highness The Prince Consort.
Our last visit to the Opera House was in 2005 – also on the occasion of a birthday celebration: the bicentenary of the birth, of the other famous Dane I mentioned, Hans Christian Andersen – whose fairytales transcend age and nationality.
At its birth, many people considered the Opera House somewhat of, in fairytale terms, “an ugly duckling”. But just like in Andersen’s fairytale, the Opera House has matured into a graceful urban sculpture – a beautiful swan.
It has found its place in the hearts and minds of both Australians and Danes. It has become a symbol of national pride for both our countries.
And today, Utzon’s iconic building is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Jørn Utzon’s sense of architecture is an understanding of harmony. In his words architecture is:
“..a deep urge and need to create harmony from all the demands made by the undertaking, an ability to persuade them to grow together, to form a new whole – as in nature”.
The Sydney Opera House has the ability to move us; not only with its visual magnificence but, also with what is was built for – the Arts.
Thousands of outstanding artists from all corners of the globe have performed here and over the past four decades, millions of visitors have experienced what lies within; performances that can move us to tears, make us laugh and impress us.
The Opera House is internationally admired and has become a strong symbol not only of Sydney, but also of the identity, courage and boldness of Australia. At the same time, it is a strong symbol of Danish creativity, innovation and excellence.
On a much smaller scale, more masterpieces of Danish design have found their way to Sydney for this celebration. The exhibition “Danish Design at the House” showcases a number of leading Danish design companies, representing both the old and new generation of designers. A visit to the exhibition is a rewarding experience that not only reflects history but, also points to the future.
During 40 years, the Sydney Opera House has created harmony between nature and city, between time and context and between the past and the future.
It symbolises the strong bond between Denmark and Australia and is an example of a unique collaboration that continues to develop and grow. It unites what appears so far apart.
On behalf of Denmark, the Crown Prince and I wish Sydney and the people of Australia the warmest of congratulations on this milestone birthday.
We are very proud of the Opera House. Of all it has achieved and will continue to achieve during a decade of renewal, as it evolves to meet the needs and aspirations of a new era.
It is our hope that the magnificent beauty and creativity of the Opera House will continue to inspire new generations and the time they live in.