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Sydney Opera House upgrades to impact 2017 performances
Maintenance of key stage equipment in the Joan Sutherland Theatre at Sydney Opera House may force Opera Australia and The Australian Ballet to seek new performance venues for much of 2017.
The $45 million Theatre Machinery Project, part of the Opera House’s overarching plan for the renewal of its venues and spaces, will improve the reliability, functionality and safety of the 1,500 seat Joan Sutherland Theatre’s equipment and operations.
Commenting on the upgrade, Sydney Opera House Chief Executive Louise Herron stated "the Joan Sutherland Theatre is one of the most intensively used of the Opera House’s seven venues, delivering an average of 330 performances a year, while still using the original equipment. Artists’ and audiences’ needs and expectations have changed and the equipment has aged."
The theatre’s current machinery systems – used to move and fly scenery, equipment and performers above and onto the stage – are now more than 40 years old and nearing the end of their operational life.
During the 2017 capital works, the lighting bridge located above the proscenium, obsolete lighting dimmers and other facilities will also be upgraded or replaced.
The Theatre Machinery Project involves two years of preparation to allow the necessary time for organisational planning, procurement of specialised equipment and performance scheduling. The theatre will then close for seven months, from May to December 2017, while the existing theatre machinery is removed, new systems are installed and tested, and production crews receive training.
Details about the impact of these capital works on Opera Australia and The Australian Ballet’s 2017 seasons have not yet been finalised, although both companies have given public support to the project.
Opera Australia Chief Executive Craig Hassall released a statement that read "this is a critical maintenance project and we fully support it.
"Since the Opera House opened in 1973 the Joan Sutherland Theatre has provided us with an iconic stage to present some of the world’s best loved operas. Much of the machinery is original and needs to be upgraded. We recognise the many advantages of replacing this ageing machinery with more reliable systems and the latest technology."
Similarly, The Australian Ballet’s Executive Director Libby Christie stated "we are working closely with the Opera House to ensure the theatre machinery upgrades meet all our production needs.
"This is an important step in the renewal of this iconic building that will deliver both increased reliability and enhanced functionality behind the curtain."
For more information go to www.sydneyoperahouse.com
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
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