How we’re renewing the Joan Sutherland Theatre | Sydney Opera House

[Overture to The Magic Flute by Mozart] The Opera House is a work of human creative
genius – that’s what’s acknowledged in our World Heritage Listing. But it’s also, really importantly,
a performing arts centre. And it is the works of
human creative genius day in, day out that actually
bring this place to life. We’re about to begin the first of a series
of projects in the Renewal of the Opera House. These works represent the largest set of capital
works since the Opera House opened more than forty years ago. LYNDON TERRACINI: Well the Joan Sutherland
Theatre got its name after arguably one of the greatest opera singers that Australia
has ever produced – Dame Joan Sutherland. Well the improvements to the Sydney Opera
House, of course, will be welcomed. The machinery there is old – it hasn’t
been replaced since 1973 when the theatres were opened. JST Renewal in a nutshell is
replacing the engine room and the backbone of the theatre. We’ll be replacing the rear lifts which
are totally original to the venue off the boat from Austria all those years ago. The over-stage machinery is being completely
renewed as well. The company did our very
first season in the very first year that the theatre opened in 1973. We actually perform more at the Joan Sutherland
Theatre than we do anywhere else in Australia. In fact, I think it’s probably the most
hardworking theatre in the whole world. It’s quite extraordinary that it has been
this long without having any sort of refurbishment in the stage machinery so we’re really excited
about this Renewal project. We think it’s going to be a fantastic thing
for the theatre and for the user companies – and for the audiences as well. BRETT CHYNOWETH: The Australian Ballet does
almost 200 performances every year and a huge chunk of those are done here at the Sydney
Opera House. And in that time there’s definitely been
moments where the need for an upgrade has been visible to us performers. I always think it’s strange when people come
and see a show because they only really see what we let them see on stage
through the proscenium arch. But there is a huge amount of choreography
that happens backstage as well. Especially for the big productions, when there’s
a lot of scene changes and a lot of things happening. The crew backstage are doing equally difficult
and extraordinary manoeuvres to make all of that magic happen on stage. LOU ROSICKY: Up at grid level – the real engine
room of the theatre – we’re stripping out the grid floor and we’re replacing it with
a really clever design. Going through the process of visiting the
factories to see where the new equipment’s being made – seeing the rear lift assembled
in its entirety and operating in a factory in Tattendorf in the middle of the Austrian
winter was amazing. We need to make the very most
of the opportunity to do works that we otherwise couldn’t do while the theatre is operating. So that includes: upgrades to the pit for
the orchestra, it includes accessibility works to make it easier for people to come and go
from the theatre. There are venue enhancements. The other thing that’s
really exciting for us is, of course the acoustic treatment that’s happening during
the closure period. And for our audiences, because obviously in
ballet, the music is a vital part of the enjoyment of the performance. As much as we are really sad to be moving
out for the next seven months, we’re really excited about the future possibilities. LOUISE HERRON: While the Joan Sutherland Theatre
is closed all of the other venues will remain open. And so we do have some performances
– some extraordinary performances in the Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House. We’re doing Parsifal – a Wagnerian opera,
the Verdi Requiem with a wonderful cast and fantastic conductor. We’ll be at the Capitol Theatre
with two programs in November/December. We’re really hoping that everyone comes. We’ve got Nutcracker which
we’re doing at the moment Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland which is a huge undertaking. A traditional Sleeping Beauty which is opulent
and enormous to say the least. But of course at the beginning
of 2018 we’re going to be so excited to come back into the new, renewed and exciting
JST for our ongoing seasons at the Sydney Opera House. We’re really making sure
that the Opera House is fit for purpose and is able to deliver the sort of miracles that
we only at the moment can dream of.


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