Australia won’t break the bank on renewing Sydney Opera House

Australia won’t break the bank on renewing Sydney Opera House


norman lebrecht

August 11, 2016

The New South Wales Government has announced plans to upgrade the iconic building, 43 years after its opening, with a view to improving the appalling acoustics of its concert hall and opera auditorium.

But the amount allocated – A$200 million, or US$154 million – looks far too small, given that it will also be spent on a new function centre and other structural upgrades.

Both of London’s concert halls have spent similar sums on revamps in recent years without achieving more than marginal and temporary improvements to the prevalent murk. It won’t be easy or cheap to make the Sydney Opera sound as good as it looks.

MüllerBBM, a German company, were appointed accousticians for the Concert Hall element in September 2015.

sydney opera


  • JR says:

    Does it actually include the Opera Theatre? I would have hoped, but I think it only includes the Concert Hall…

    • MWnyc says:

      The Sydney Morning Herald’s report says that there’s already a project in place to renovate what’s now called the Joan Sutherland Theatre, and that it’s being paid for out of the Sydney Opera house’s own budget rather than by the government of NSW. But, if I’m remembering correctly, the budget is less than $100M, and it strikes me that that’s probably not enough to do the job properly.

  • JR says:

    Ah, right. Thanks for the clarification! Yes I have to agree with you there, also hardly seems like enough.

  • Nick says:

    Am I the only one who finds the attitude of the NSW government more than somewhat niggardly? Downright Scrooge-like, in fact! Let’s face it. The building may have overrun its original budget by a monstrous amount, but it has since become one of the few great iconic buildings in the world. How many tourists come to Sydney and NSW with the primary objective of seeing and being photographed against the Opera House? I suspect millions – and that’s probably only the Japanese. And how much do they contribute to the state government’s coffers, I wonder? Just wait till the Chinese start visiting in their masses!

    Ah! But I forgot. The tourists are there for the exterior of the building. A handful or so may only venture inside. So screw the interior!