Trials of Wisdom

A Sydney Opera House Virtual Escape Room #EscapeTheHouse

Sydney Opera House shaped as a key. Stars and moon glimmer in the background.


How it works

  • Welcome to the Trials of Wisdom, a virtual Escape Room by the Sydney Opera House (made with the help of the team from Escape This Podcast).
  • In order to pass the Trials of Wisdom and escape, you will need to enter four passwords at the bottom of this page. 
  • The clues for each password are hidden throughout – each room correlates to one word, but make sure you enter them in the right order.
  • There are optional hints throughout to help you along the way but if you need more help, try @SydOperaHouse and #EscapeTheHouse on Twitter.
  • We recommend you read through with a pen and paper close by, some parts might only make sense later on in the story.
  • Click here for a full transcript.
  • No spoilers! If you do escape, revel in it and let everyone know (#EscapeTheHouse), but keep the password to yourself.

Introduction

The room with the piano

You look around with uncertainty. This isn’t a room normally accessible to the public. You didn’t even know it existed. But your show had finished, the audience was all leaving, and as you filed out with them you just... spotted it. That door, with its sparkling stained glass window. You had to find out what was behind it.

You had no idea it was going to lock behind you.

Your heart beats fast. You need to find a way out of here before security finds you. And yet, curiosity still floods your mind. What is this room? It isn’t remarkable – all you see is a piano and an old-timey telephone sitting on a table. It rings, vibrating madly. You pick up the receiver.

Telephone vibrates

“Password?” a husky voice says softly. "In order, please."

You have no idea what it means, so you hang up.

You head to the piano instead. It’s a well-kept Steinbach Baby Grand. Unable to resist, you sweep your fingers across the keys... only to be disappointed. Most of them don’t work. In fact, only four of the A keys work, two of the Bs, one C, three Ds, and none of the Es, Fs or Gs. Pity.

There’s no music on the rack, but there seems to be something else. A map, with four areas shaded: an Orchestra Pit (labelled A), a Props Room (labelled B), a Costuming Department (labelled C), and a Theatre (labelled D). Behind the map you find a letter.

Painting of room with piano and telephone on table. Stained glass window on door behind the table and piano.
Letter reads: To whomever has made it this far – I have experienced much jjoy in life. Now, as I get older, I reealise that such happiness should nott be held by one peerson alone. It must be shared. I wiish to passs on my good fortune to another. However, I intend to choosse the recipient careefully. Opera has always been my fondest passion, and of all the shows out there, the one closest to my heart is Mozart’s The Magic Flute. It is a story of lovve and humour, but also of pain and anger – yet ultimately the heero’s virtue leads him to happinness. He is ttested, hhe is strained, but he comppletes the mystical Trialls of Wisdom in order to wiin the hand of his beloved. I have designed my own Trials of Wisdom. Hidden heere, scattered throughout various word puzzles, are four parts of a password, a phrase I value deeply. All you must do to prove your wiisdom is locate and speak this password into the telephone. By entering this room, you have chosen to tesst yourself. Should you ssucceed, just as in The Magiic Flute, your virtue will bring you all the joy in the world I can offer. I leave you a map and these words: no puzzle can be completed with only one piece. You may need to search for missing pieces – or identify ones that don’t belong – before the whole will make sense. Take notes, read texxt carefully, and find secret clues and connecttions. I wishh you the best of luck. -          Your hopeful benefactor
Letter reads: To whomever has made it this far – I have experienced much jjoy in life. Now, as I get older, I reealise that such happiness should nott be held by one peerson alone. It must be shared. I wiish to passs on my good fortune to another. However, I intend to choosse the recipient careefully. Opera has always been my fondest passion, and of all the shows out there, the one closest to my heart is Mozart’s The Magic Flute. It is a story of lovve and humour, but also of pain and anger – yet ultimately the heero’s virtue leads him to happinness. He is ttested, hhe is strained, but he comppletes the mystical Trialls of Wisdom in order to wiin the hand of his beloved. I have designed my own Trials of Wisdom. Hidden heere, scattered throughout various word puzzles, are four parts of a password, a phrase I value deeply. All you must do to prove your wiisdom is locate and speak this password into the telephone. By entering this room, you have chosen to tesst yourself. Should you ssucceed, just as in The Magiic Flute, your virtue will bring you all the joy in the world I can offer. I leave you a map and these words: no puzzle can be completed with only one piece. You may need to search for missing pieces – or identify ones that don’t belong – before the whole will make sense. Take notes, read texxt carefully, and find secret clues and connecttions. I wishh you the best of luck. -          Your hopeful benefactor

The Map

A D B C

Painting of 6 instruments against a wall

Room A

Orchestra Pit

You duck into the orchestra pit. None of the chairs or stands are set up, bar the conductor’s stand. Against one wall in the dark you spot a cluster of instruments, some in cases, some not. They appear to be grouped by orchestra section: the woodwinds, a bassoon, clarinet, flute and oboe; the brass, a horn, trombone and muted trumpet; strings, a single violin; and percussion, a large set of timpani. You examine them and realise that each of the nine instruments has a note affixed. The notes appear to be about their music, but you know a little about the music of The Magic Flute and none of the statements seem quite right. They must be referring to something else...

Bassoon
“Everyone has my part.”


Horn

“My part is unique.”

Trombone

“Someone else has already played my part.”
Clarinet
“All the brass and no one else has my part.”

Oboe

“Nobody else has my part.”
Trumpet
“A woodwind instrument shares my part.”
Flute
“Four others have my part, but they’re all at the start or end.”
Timpani
“One of the brass has my part, but later.”
Violin
“My part comes after the horn.”

💡 Click for an optional hint

Hidden item #1
Sheet Music

You approach the conductor’s stand and find four sheets of music. The first is labelled ‘Papageno’, then ‘Tamino’ and ‘Pamina’. And finally, ‘Queen of the Night’. This final one also has some other notes:

“26 = Z, 25 = Y, 5 = E, etc. Start simple, then get gradually more elaborate.”


piece of music named Papageno by Mozart

Room B

Props Room

This room is so packed you can barely open the door. As soon as you enter you’re bombarded by a collection of vivid, colourful animal props of varying shapes and sizes. Some are practically full-sized, whereas others have been scaled up or down, and almost none are their natural colour.

You first walk past a life-sized pink giraffe and brown elephant, then a huge aqua whale and green polar bear. After that, a regular-sized black cat, blue turkey, silver wallaby, and white possum. Next come the ones that are bigger than you but normally wouldn’t be: an enormous indigo flamingo, purple fox, and yellow snake. Finally you pass the ones that have been miniaturised, a small gold lion, orange gorilla, and red horse.

At this other end you’ve discovered a workshop area, where props are built and finished. Sitting in a row on a workbench is a collection of open paints. You read their labels:

Paint buckets with labels that read: Aqua, Baby-pink, Eggshell-white, Electric-indigo, Imperial-red, Midnight-blue, Onyx, Orioles-orange, Raw-umber, Royal-purple, Silver-chalice, Vegas-gold, Viridian, Yellow'

💡 Click for an optional hint

Painting of colourful prop animals crammed into a small room
Painting of costumes hanging on a small room next to mirror. Measuring tape on the ground.

Room C

Costume Department

You open the door and are greeted by a flurry of colours and materials. You only count a dozen costumes hanging, but while some are simple, others are quite extravagant. One dress has a train so long it would need an entire wardrobe to itself. You approach and find that they all are labelled with a character name and a size. You think some of these are from The Magic Flute but it’s difficult to remember which ones.

You examine the costumes carefully and make note of how elaborate they are.

Banker – Extremely simple, size 8

Count Almaviva – Extremely elaborate, size 25

Don Giovanni – Somewhat elaborate, size 2

Ferrando – Somewhat elaborate, size 11

Figaro – Somewhat simple, size 9

High Priest of Neptune – Extremely elaborate, size 20

King of Crete – Somewhat simple, size 13

Lucia – Extremely simple, size 3

Pamina – Somewhat simple, size 15

Papageno – Somewhat elaborate, size 22

Queen of the Night – Extremely elaborate, size 5

Tamino – Extremely simple, size 12

💡 Click for an optional hint

Hidden item #2
Measuring Tape

Tucked away in a corner, there’s a long measuring tape with a splash of light pink paint on it. You find a post-it stuck there:

“Only work with the big ones! Roughly two metres or taller.”


animated illustration of measuring tape

Room D

Theatre

There’s noise coming from the theatre. You creep in silently and see that on the stage are a dozen ballerinas, all practising the same movements. That’s odd. Surely nobody should be rehearsing at this time of night, let alone in the theatre. But here they are, practising, with a demanding woman out the front calling, “Make sure you know your positions in relation to the sign!”

You watch them dance, and see that behind them is a prominent sign that reads “THE BORDER”. The letters are as big as the dancers. It looks like they’re recreating an abstract scene from The Magic Flute, representing the border between night and day.

You observe their warm up and memorise the order of their movements:

1. Fourth position
2. Plié
3. Fifth position
4. First position
5. Second position
6. Third position
7. Plié
8. Second position
9. Fifth position
10. Fifth position
11. Jeté


animated illustration of ballet dancers performing various moves
💡 Click for an optional hint

Animated painting of theatre. Curtains open and dancers perform in front of a sign saying 'The Border'.

Hidden item #3
Recording device

As you sneak closer to the stage, you almost trip over something on the floor. It’s a recording device. Once you’re in a quiet corner, you press ‘play’ and listen. It sounds like someone from the orchestra is speaking.


Can you pass the Trial of Wisdom?

Hopefully you have all of the clues you need. Now speak the password, unlock the end of the story and escape.

Thanks for playing

Donate to the Sydney Opera House

Produced by:
Dominic Ellis & Natalia Scherer

Writer/Puzzlemaster:
Dani Siller (Escape This Podcast)

Illustrations:
Sylvia Zheng

Programming:
Justin Tam

Voices:
Patrick Morrow

Editing:
Dominic Ellis