Tomorrow night’s performance by the singer Solange at the Sydney Opera House’s concert hall will be the last event that the venue hosts for two years, with work set to commence on a $150 million upgrade to the space.
The concert hall, the largest performance space in the Sydney Opera House, will undergo its first major renovation since its opening in 1973 as part of the venue's multi-million-dollar “decade of renewal” capital works program.
Projected to be complete before the World Heritage-listed landmark reaches its 50th anniversary in 2023, the renovations will include new state-of-the-art theatre machinery and staging systems to ensure the venue is better equipped to present a range of performances, improvements to ensure higher quality sound, the enhancement of access for people with mobility needs and upgrades to behind-the-scenes working spaces for staff.
The upgrades will transform the audience and performer experience and ensure the concert hall can switch between moods and modes as seamlessly and efficiently as possible. Specially designed new above-stage acoustic reflectors and reorientated box fronts with a new acoustic diffusion will better distribute sound to performers on stage and to audiences in all parts of the hall. A new, lower stage will improve access from backstage and sightlines to the stage and the installation of automated stage risers will improve audience sightlines and accommodate a variety of orchestral configurations.
Renewal works are being undertaken in line with the Opera House’s Conservation Management Plan and Danish architect Jørn Utzon’s design principles, and with respect to the original interiors of architect Peter Hall, who completed the Opera House after Utzon departed the project.
When complete, the most noticable change in the 2,500-seat space concert hall, will be the installation of the new acoustic reflectors that will replace the distinctive clear acrylic ‘doughnuts’ conceived by Hall and Dr Vilhelm Jordan to solve the acoustics challenges presented by the uniquely-shaped venue.
The concert hall, which was originally intended to be a more versatile theatre for opera, has come under fire for its acoustics with actor John Malkovich notably stating in 2014 that the venue had “acoustics that would do an aeroplane hangar a disservice”.
Explaining that it is vital that the venue and its stages continue to evolve along with the needs of the community it serves, Sydney Opera House Chief Executive, Louise Herron explains “renewing the concert hall will enable us present an even broader and more ambitious program of classical and contemporary art in a venue that is more accessible, safer and better equipped
“This is a historic moment for the Opera House and we are incredibly grateful to the NSW government for its support and to everyone involved in making this project possible.”
While works are under way, the Opera House will also start the final project in its decade of renewal, transforming office space in the building’s north-western corner into a new centre for creativity.
Taylor Construction and Waagner-Biro Stage Systems will carry out the works.
While works on the concert hall are underway, the Opera House’s Head of Contemporary Music, Ben Marshall, is keen to remind audiences that the venue is still open, commenting “there are six other internal venues unaffected by the Concert Hall renewal.
“Every major performance venue needs to close from time to time to undertake upgrades, and it’s no different for us.”
Click here for more information on the project.
Images: Renderings what the concert hall will look like after the biggest upgrade in its 46-year history (top and below), the concert hall, the largest performance space in the Sydney Opera House, has hosted increasingly diverse performances in recent years, including rock band Kasabian in 2017 (middle).
18th July 2019 - Flow Power supports Sydney Opera House’s long-term renewable energy goals
5th December 2018 - Sydney Opera House improves accessibility to the Joan Sutherland Theatre
6th October 2018 - Anger at use of Sydney Opera House to promote horse racing event
4th October 2018 - Sydney Opera House achieves carbon neutral goal
20th December 2017 - Sydney Opera House unveils Joan Sutherland Theatre refurbishment
10th October 2017 - New conservation plan for Sydney Opera House
27th May 2017 - Sydney Opera House named Australia’s favourite landmark
20th May 2017 - Biggest ever renovation set to commence at the Sydney Opera House
11th August 2016 - Sydney Opera House set for $202 million renewal
3rd April 2016 - Sydney Opera House tapestry unveiled 56 years after its commission
7th September 2015 - Sydney Opera House awarded for sustainability leadership
25th June 2015 - Sydney Opera House upgrades to impact 2017 performances
25th February 2015 - $600 million plan to upgrade Sydney Opera House and arts venues
5th November 2014 - New LED lighting illuminates Sydney Opera House Concert Hall
28th October 2013 - Anniversary concert marks Sydney Opera House’s 40th birthday
19th October 2013 - Sydney Opera House brand more valuable than Australia
30th June 2012 - Sydney Opera House appoints Louise Herron as Chief Executive
Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?
The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.
However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.
Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.
Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.
Click here to subscribe.