Loud music is banned at Sydney Opera House

Loud music is banned at Sydney Opera House


norman lebrecht

February 27, 2017

The iconic venue has been fined A$15,000 for noise violations after complaints by its neighbours.

Residents of the so-called Toaster building objected to four concerts in 2015 by Florence And The Machine, claiming it was far too loud.

The New South Wales government has now slapped an order on the opera house, prohibiting all noise above 70 decibels on all days after 4pm.


  • Sara Gold says:

    Is that level measured OUTSIDE, or INSIDE, the Opera House? As an average conversation in a typical home is around 65dB SPL, 70dB SPL isn’t all that loud. (You need a reference level; decibels is just a ratio.)

    I would have some sympathy for keeping the sound inside the concert hall.

    • Nick says:

      It must have been outside. There is no possibility of internal noise from one of the auditoria even from a pop group seeping out through walls, corridors and entrance ways at that decibel level. Apartments in the area of the Opera House are extremely expensive and so when the residents make a ‘noise’ the authorities will take note!

    • Max Grimm says:

      Residents of the ‘toaster’ have long complained that the Opera House were breaching noise restrictions with their outdoor concerts and this fine is a small win for them.

      Seems like discontent has been building for a while…

    • Sixtus says:

      Indeed, 70 db is not all that loud for an amplified outdoor concert, even a classical one. While there have been complaints from ultra-posh residents of the aptly nicknamed “Toaster” (which looks like a monstrous Las Vegas hotel with none of the compensatory amenities), a web search reveals that there have equally been complaints from concertgoers that the music at the Opera House’s outdoor concerts has been too soft. A limit of 70 dB, measured just outside the Toaster is a limit that will make those concerts (and the revenue they probably supply to the Opera House) unworkable. Even an amplified orchestral concert will exceed this limit by at least 10 dB, not to mention performances of Beethoven’s Wellington’s Victory, Berlioz’ Tristia or the 1812 Overture and its seemingly obligatory accompanying fireworks display. This has all the hallmarks of a no-win situation.

  • Maria says:

    In that case, I trust that the noise ban includes all sources, including those inside the Toaster building? Noise is noise, after all.

    No parties on any day of the week after 4pm. That should work.

  • John Borstlap says:

    The very funny title of this post made one imagine censorship for Wagner operas and Ligeti’s ‘Le Grand Macabre’.

    • Sixtus says:

      As operas go, Le Grand Macabre isn’t particularly loud. At times delightfully cacophonic perhaps, but not Messiaen-with-a-truckload-of-gongs put-in-the-earplugs loud. If it’s a loud opera you want, I’d start with Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth.

  • Bernard McMinn says:

    It isn’t a if the Opera House wasn’t there first !!!

    • Sue says:

      As a victim myself of the “there first” argument when farming, I soon found out that noise and dust and odour are justnot allowed past the farm fence or gate – irrespective of how long the operation has been going. Our Environmental Protection Agency is very zealous on this score. I used to tell the EPA that I’d instructed the dust not to go beyond the farm gate but it didn’t take any notice of me!!

      The forecourt and harbour surrounds near the opera house are frightful for noise; I can’t stand it when I go there. Boom boom, clanking glasses, terribly noisy music and patrons. Why on earth anybody would want to live in the inner city is totally beyond me. It’s god-awful.