When an Australian looks at it, their heart is filled with pride. When an outsider lays eyes on it, the word changes to awestruck! That is the appeal of the Sydney Opera House. A major tourist spot, a UNESCO world heritage site that boasts of a rich cultural history, the 1973 building needs no introduction. Danish architect Jorn Utzon’s vision of a sail-shaped exterior that is house to multiple art and performance venues helped put Sydney on the global map like never before. With an annual footfall of around 8 million visitors, it is no rocket science to imagine its powerful impact on the revenue of the state, which is around A$775 million annually.
In spite of all this, it has constantly been pinned as a soft target by spectators, critics, and musicians for its below-average acoustics. A popular magazine placed the opera theatre at the bottom of the world’s top 20 acoustics with the concert hall barely crawling up to the 18th place begging for saving grace. But, ladies and gentlemen, sigh no more! Recently, the State of New South Wales unveiled plans for revamping the interiors of the Opera house to bring it back to its A-game. The budget is a whopping A$200 million figure which will ensure world class acoustics and accessibility while adding a family-friendly Creative Learning Centre in place of the current unused office spaces.
Custom acoustic panels and surround-sound systems will help optimize the sound in the concert hall while enabling spectators to enjoy a wide range of performances. In addition to that, a digital art wall will be added and the entry area will be refurbished. A new lounge, an event space and air-conditioning that is quieter will allow visitors to have an excellent time. Wheelchair accessible pathways will bring in more visitors for certain (What!! they didn’t have that already?). The renovations will not change the external appearance of the building at all. Work starts in 2017 and should see completion by 2020.
The Sydney Opera House celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2023. Let’s hope that by then the magnificent opera house makes it to the list of world-class acoustics while continuing to engage audience the way it does. With that big a budget for the first time since 1973, this 20th century marvel is sure to bring back Sydney some more moolah and magic! We are waiting, are you?