The Sydney Opera House is about to shut

The Sydney Opera House is about to shut


norman lebrecht

January 30, 2020

Tomorrow will see the last performance at the Sydney Opera House concert hall until 2022 at the earliest.

On Saturday the builders move in for a $150 million renovation.

Better acoustics are promised.

Oh, yeah?

The Guardian has a good piece on all the botches.

UPDATE from the SOH:

 While the Concert Hall is closed, the Opera House will remain open with a range of performances across our six other venues and two outdoor performance spaces. Tours will continue and all on-site restaurants and bars will be operating as normal, ensuring a vibrant and welcoming precinct for the millions of visitors who come to the Opera House each year.

Audiences will still be able to enjoy unmissable performances and experiences across the Opera House and we will continue to host flagship festivals and events such as Vivid LIVE, All About Women and Dance Rites as well as a packed program from our resident companies and other presenting companies. For more info about what’s on, see here.


  • Calvin says:

    Has there ever been a wholly successful acoustic retrofit?

    • David K. Nelson says:

      One would hope that at the very least, experience would prevent anyone from saying or thinking “well, it can’t end up any worse than it is” before diving into such a project. Acoustic experts seem to have about the same success rate — or perhaps I should say, they have the same definition of “success” — as marriage counselors.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        Perhaps they’re motivated by the same impulses as those who attend marriage counselling; they’re willing to give it a try!! Make a poor situation better.

        The acoustic experts at the Musikverein have enjoyed ‘success’, whereas the architects of the Staatsoper didn’t, with at least one committing suicide.

        If only they all, and we, could live up to the exacting standards required by “The Guardian” the world would become a utopian playground.

        • Greg Bottini says:

          I hope the acousticians ARE successful, Sue dear.
          Davies Hall in SF was improved tremendously by reconstructing the stage and its backing and sides and hanging new, adjustible, acoustical “clouds”. Improvements that could be immediately heard, not only by the audience, but by the musicians on stage as well.
          And the whole interior of the auditorium did not need to be gutted; in my memory, the reconstruction was accomplished during the Symphony’s off-season.

          • Donald Hansen says:

            Yes, no season concerts were missed and I recall everyone was pleased with the results and new look. When Decca Records (London Records on these shores) recorded the symphony they built a platform for the orchestra to sit on that extended out into the seating area and improved the sonics. That was no longer necessary after the reconstruction.

    • Anon says:

      Severance Hall, Cleveland

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Oh yes, “The Guardian” would always have a ‘piece’ on botches and every other aspect of life which constitutes the glass half empty. Negative, grievance ridden undergraduate rants are its stock in trade.

    • George Porter says:

      Looks like you haven’t read the piece.

    • Graeme Gee says:

      You’re attacking the messenger. The Guardian piece was quite factual, not the least bit hysterical. The plain fact is the government’s forcing out of Utzon, followed by the concert/opera venue switch stuffed the thing properly, and it’s been series of botched compromises ever since.
      It’s a perfect microcosm of the paradox of Australia; embracing the great, the visionary, the unknown, and then – when the thing wasn’t being built using the same technique we used for the brick dunnies in the Domaine – we got all small-minded and parochial and frightened and suspicious and stuffed up what was left of the job (the interiors) after we chased the foreigner away.

    • V.Lind says:

      Pot and kettle come to mind.

  • TCM says:

    That’s interesting. We have tickets to see Don Giovanni at the end of February. No mention that the performance would not be at the opera house.

  • JR says:

    The Sydney Opera House is not closing, only the Concert Hall, which is one of 5 halls in the building. The opera/ballet theatre and others remain open.

  • Malcolm Ede says:

    Very misleading article Norman. Only the Concert Hall is shutting. The Opera Theatre, Playhouse, Utzon Room and Drama Theatre all remaining open and maintaining a very busy schedule.

  • Marj says:

    The Sydney Opera House is NOT shutting. The concert hall is. The Dame Joan Sutherland Opera Theatre, the Drama Theatre, the Playhouse, the Utzon Recital Hall are all operating at full capacity and will continue to do so. Please do not imply there is nothing doing for two years at the Opera House.

  • Christopher Clift says:

    To be fair to Norman, though the headline IS a tad misleading, in his very first sentence he does say ….’ Tomorrow will see the last performance at the Sydney Opera House concert hall until 2022 at the earliest.’