Sydney Opera House To Get $200M Renovation

The  is to get a A$202 million ($154.8 million) renovation, paid for by the New South Wales (NSW) government.  

Photo: AP Photo / Rob Griffifth, File

Deputy Premier Troy Grant said the government was “honoured” to play a key role, noting, “The Sydney Opera House has played an important role in our nation’s history and embarking on these renewal projects will ensure that it continues to be relevant for generations to come.”

The landmark draws 8.2 million visitors a year and contributes A$775 million ($592.2 million) annually to the NSW economy and, according to a Deloitte Access Economics report in 2013, has a national-identity value of $4.6 billion ($3.5 billion).

The changes, the first major facelift since it opened in 1973, will take four years. The venue’s chief executive, Louise Herron, said its technical systems and equipment “frankly, have reached the end of their working life (and) would be replaced.”

These include a 3D sound system and drapes, better acoustics, a quieter air conditioning system, and new lifts and escalators.

A tunnel under the space would be “revolutionary” for people with disabilities, with up to 26 wheelchair-accessible seating positions. Other changes include a creative learning centre for children, workshops, talks and performances. There would also be a separate, permanent digital classroom, and a 500-capacity function room. Herron said the upgrades would stick to the design principles of Jørn Utzon, the late Danish architect who designed the building, His son, Jan, also an architect, is on a panel approving the changes.

Work will be staggered so that the building will remain open during the renovation. The 2,679-seat Concert Hall, which hosts contemporary and classical music events, will close between 2019 and 2021. David Robertson, chief conductor and artistic director of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, which is based at the hall, remarked it would be “inside as extraordinary and as amazing as it is from the outside.”

The Joan Sutherland Theatre, the second largest internal venue – which showcases opera, ballet, contemporary dance, music and spoken-word – will close May to December 2017 while its machinery is made more safe and reliable.