When they ask how it happened, you can tell them this is how it happened. Jorn Utzon had won the prize he could not remember entering but, hey, who is going to argue with blue skies and an endless summer of bikinis and beer. So, now what to do.
Utzon was chilling, wandering the boat sheds of the Central Coast when he had his eureka moment. Maybe it is true that your best ideas surface when you are looking elsewhere. Or maybe it was the second bottle of an under rated Hunter Semillon, but whatever, it was plain to Utzon. He had his design in front of him. Nautical, curvatures like the earth, a pleasing cream sheen to match the colours of a magical harbour and contrast that ugly grey bridge – it was indeed a break through. So happy with himself Utzon peeled himself an orange and immediately had another idea. Why not make the roof tiles orange? This new and exciting city in the southern part of the world seems almost up for anything so why not Orange!
You know the rest. Or do you? So, Utzon hastens back to his offices and presents his ideas to the Planning Trust. Much to his dismay they do not like his nautical epiphany, and to make matters worse they rubbish his idea of orange tiles – words to the effect that he should have had a third bottle of that Hunter Semillon. Much angst and unproductive meetings followed. Utzon’s European colleagues gave him the usual support, words to the effect that you are dealing with thieves from the British Empire and they have no understanding of the finer things, excepting their under rated Hunter Semillons. Enjoy your time down there, bring back an Aussie princess and return to Denmark. You know the rest. Or do you?
The Dutch, tall and pragmatic race that they are, had been watching from afar. They could not use Utzon’s design as they already had an Opera House. But, the idea of orange was new to them. Such a strong and bold colour. Especially in the long and grey winters of Europe. This will inspire our people beyond beer and chocolate and tulips.
And so it was so. The Netherlands wore orange whenever they entered a sporting environment and the wall of orange became born. Or slice of orange depending on the sport. Some even say that the custom of taking oranges at half time came from this sporting march around the world.
And the Opera House? Well it took an inordinate amount of time and money and more arguments. The most productive output from these endeavours was the Opera House lottery which fitted much better with the gambling predilections of the public for the next several decades until eventually, well, we could put shows on inside it. And then another smart idea. Why don’t we do light shows, and put colour onto those glorious sales…like orange.