Backstage tour at Sydney Opera House

Went to this — which usually costs $150 — but was free because the Sydney Opera House was having an Open Day. Thousands turned up. I stood on the stage and saw the orchestra pits, the rehearsal room and backstage areas, green rooms, costume-making.

My favourite bit was reading the staff noticeboards and the many clippings from The Sydney Morning Herald (reviews and also smaller stories from the My Career section or other little features about lesser-known chorus or orchestra members). It was great to see these are so important and often took up one-third of the noticeboards! They’d also pinned up postcards or email printouts from audience members praising their performance — this pleased me as I do this after feeling inspired by a great show, so I wonder if my emails are printed and stuck up somewhere? Nice to see they’re appreciated.

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Christopher Hitchens: Religion poisons everything

Christopher Hitchens, left, and Tony Jones.
Christopher Hitchens, left, and Tony Jones.
Jones (left) and Hitchens leave the stage.
Jones (left) and Hitchens leave the stage.

He’s an amazing speaker — was the opening address for the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House. I couldn’t take notes cause they turned down the lights and I can’t recollect his whole arguments — he’s extensively thorough on each point, with numerous tangents. So these aren’t his exact quotes — there’s a telecast on the ABC site.

I’d thought there would be argy bargy as I saw some Traddies in the foyer (traditional Catholics) but only the MC, Tony Jones, was asking questions.

Hitchens covered the angles of “I don’t need supernatural supervision to do good deeds” and gave an example of how he likes to donate blood.

Also, he said religious people have to accept that the Abrahamic God took a long while to intervene in people’s history — only 3000 years ago — and yet there had been a lot of wars and raping and kids killed before then. He said that had to be acknowledged, andhe doesn’t buy the arguments: “God’s ways are greater than ours, He works in mysterious ways, his ways are opaque.”

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