Aug 12, 2016

    Sydney Opera House to spend $209m to fix 'hideous' acoustics


    THE Concert Hall, the largest of the six venues in Australia's sail-like Sydney Opera House, will be closed between August 2019 and January 2021 to upgrade its acoustic systems and performance space, the Australian media reported.

    Yesterday, Arts Minister Troy Grant unveiled the designs for the biggest upgrade to Australia's most recognisable building since it opened in 1973, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.

    "The problem is with the very high ceiling; a lot of the sound that the orchestra actually makes rises and isn't reflected down," said Sydney Opera House chief executive Louise Herron.

    "It means it's not such a good experience as it could be if the sound is more contained."

    American actor John Malkovich said in 2014 that the hall's acoustics were so hideous they "would do an aeroplane hangar a disservice", reported the Agence France-Presse.

    The refurbishment, estimated to cost A$202 million (S$209 million), will involve the installation of a new acoustic ceiling, specially designed acoustic reflectors that can better distribute sound, automated draping and a 3D surround-sound system.

    Also, the stage will be lowered and its back expanded.

    Rory Jeffes, managing director of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra whose home is the Concert Hall, said his musicians were excited about the improvements.

    The upgrade is funded by the New South Wales government, whereas the A$45 million renovation bill for the second largest venue, Joan Sutherland Theatre, will be covered by the Opera House itself.

    The theatre will close from May to December next year for work to improve the safety and reliability of its space, reported the Sydney Time Out tour website.

    Every year, the Opera House - which became a Unesco world heritage site in 2007 - attracts about 8.2 million visitors and contributes A$775 million to the domestic economy.