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In Sydney, Australia, the Sydney Opera House is probably the best ticket in town. That is unless you are very lucky, as I was, and get to take the experience up a notch with a private tour of the facility.

This massive performing arts complex, perched on the edge of Sydney Harbour, is famous the world over for its multi-level white roof line, which resembles either white sails fluttering in the wind or white shells stacked one on top of the other, depending on your preference. The size and complexity of the Opera House, however, is less well-known and I was surprised not just by the vastness of the spectacular main performance space but also by the number of tunnels, corridors, rehearsal rooms, dressing rooms, recording studios, and additional performances venues that support and complement the main stage.

In a busy performing arts venue like the Opera House, it’s hard to find a quiet moment to take it all in. For me, that meant arriving very early one morning for my private tour. The early hour was well worth it for the experience I had. From a walk on the main stage to taking up the baton in the orchestra pit to stretching out in largest rehearsal room and even picking out a tune on the piano in a luxurious dressing room reserved for the biggest international stars, I was able to put myself in the shoes of the many artists who perform at the Sydney Opera House each year for audiences that total in the millions. The experience of being nearly alone with my guide in these spaces was second to none.

Learning more about the Opera House and what goes on behind the scenes to support the performances there gave me a real sense of connection to the excitement these performances generate. That’s why it was especially thrilling to get to come back after the tour and actually see a performance. My Sydney Opera House ticket was really the best ticket in town the day I saw “My Fair Lady” on the main stage, directed by the great Dame Julie Andrews who had starred in the original Broadway production many years ago. Seeing the Sydney Opera House from the outside is a treat, but seeing it from within is an incredibly special experience.

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