The $71 million Opera House upgrades that patrons will never see or hear

THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE UPGRADE- Stage hands bump in one of the sets from the Opera La Traviata on the Dame Joan Sutherland theatre at the Sydney Opera House, they are demenstrating how much easier it is to change sets with the new uprades to back stage technologie and lifts on December 20, 2017. Photo: Jessica Hromas THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE UPGRADE- Stage hands bump in one of the sets from the Opera La Traviata on the Dame Joan Sutherland theatre at the Sydney Opera House, they are demenstrating how much easier it is to change sets with the new uprades to back stage technologie and lifts on December 20, 2017. Photo: Jessica Hromas

Production manager of Opera Australia, James Wheeler stand on the Joan Sutherland Theatre of the Sydney Opera House, after speaking to media about the changes that audiences will experience when the world-famous venue re-opens on New Year’s Eve, after seven months of renewal works.on 20 December 2017. Photo: Jessica Hromas

Sydney Opera House CEO Louise Herron stands on the Joan Sutherland Theatre of the Sydney Opera House, and speaks to media about the changes that audiences will experience when the world-famous venue re-opens on New Year’s Eve, after seven months of renewal works.on 20 December 2017. Photo: Jessica Hromas

THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE UPGRADE- Builders stand on the Dame Joan Sutherland Theatre at the Sydney Opera House, as the Sydney Opera Houses renovations are nearly complete, ready for the opening night of the Merry Widow on New Years Eve, on December 20, 2017. Photo: Jessica Hromas

They’re likely the most expensive changes to the Sydney Opera House that patrons will hopefully never hear or see.

After seven months and $71 million of work, the Joan Sutherland Theatre will reopen on New Year’s Eve with a performance of Merry Widow.

All patrons are expected to notice is a warm and vibrant sound that does justice to the orchestra, thanks to improvements to the acoustics and the orchestra pit.

Behind the scenes, the improvements include a $45 million upgrade to the theatre machinery including a massive lift built by Austrian firm Waagner-Biro. Unlike the old lift, also built by the same firm, the new one is safer, quieter and 2.5 times faster. It can carry about 20 tonnes of scenery, baritones, sopranos, even elephants and horses to stage level with barely a whisper. The old lift had become unsafe and performers were banned from riding on it.

Above the stage, more than 400 tonnes of wire and steel was removed.

In its place new rigging was installed above the stage managed by a new theatre flying system – that is capable of lifting scenery and cast, even Violetta in La Traviata into the stars – safely and noiselessly.

Previously scene changes were sometimes audible to the audience, making it hard for them to suspend their disbelief.

Opera Australia’s production manager James Wheeler said the changes were designed to provide the best possible performances for singers, dancers, performers and patrons.

“All this work will be happening behind the scenes, as it always has, but less obtrusively, because you won’t hear stuff, everything will work, nothing will break down.”

“We don’t want patrons to know what we are doing, and we don’t want them to see our stuff, unless we are pointing attention, to say, ‘look at this fantastic reveal’,” he said.

The old lift was noisy enough that a member of the Opera House staff swore he could hear it whirring during the overture when watching the simulcast on ABC television.

“What we don’t want is to distract a patron’s attention from what’s happening on stage.

“We don’t want to have someone in the middle of an aria, and suddenly you hear a clunk,” said Mr Wheeler, who started off at the Opera House as a flyman moving rigging. He said he could identify each piece of old rigging by the sound it made during a performance. Now, he hopes to hear nothing.

The improvements to the Joan Sutherland Theatre are the first in the Opera House’s $273 million renewal program, which will include similar improvements to the Concert Hall, changes to the entry foyers and the construction of a new exhibition and performance space under the Opera House stairs.

Inspecting the new changes on Wednesday morning, the Minister for the Arts Don Harwin said the improvements “signal a new era for one of the world’s great performance venues and an Australian icon, opening up new possibilities and ensuring it is able to continue to meet the needs and expectations of artists, audiences and visitors for many years to come”.

The changes also include six new toilets for women, improvements in the lighting system and improvements to the air conditioning in the orchestra pit, which previously ranged from freezing to very cold, said a source.

Michael Dixon, a French horn player who has worked in the pit for 12 years, said they worked hard to make a beautiful sound, “rarely achieving anything for the audience other than an echo”.

“I had buried any hope of hearing the warm and vibrant sound that emerged from the section today,” he said after he had tried the new pit.

Now the sound was “truly gorgeous”, he said.

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Jarryd Hayne accused of rape in US while playing for 49ers

Parramatta Eels superstar Jarryd Hayne has been accused of raping a woman while he was in the US playing for the San Francisco 49ers, US court documents reveal.

Civil lawsuit papers filed in the Santa Clara County court on Tuesday allege Hayne engaged in non-consensual sexual intercourse with a Santa Clara woman identified only as “Ms V” in December 2015.

The civil suit comes more than one year after the case was reviewed and rejected by the District Attorney’s Office, which concluded there was not enough evidence to prove the crime of rape beyond reasonable doubt.

The action filed this week includes claims of sexual battery, gender violence, infliction of emotional distress and negligence.

It is understood Hayne was flying back to Israel when news broke of the allegations.

The league star travelled to Israel earlier this month on a religious holiday, in an effort to strengthen his Christian faith, but returned to Australia halfway through the trip to celebrate his daughter’s first birthday.

Ramy Qutami from Madison Marcus Law Firm issued a statement on behalf of Hayne, who “unequivocally and vehemently” denied the claims.

“Mr Hayne and his management are aware of recent media speculation in relation to a civil complaint filed in the United States of America making certain allegations in relation to an event which allegedly occurred in 2015 whilst playing for the San Francisco 49ers,” Mr Qutami said.

“Mr Hayne has not been served with any proceedings or formal complaint relating to the incident.

“Mr Hayne previously addressed a complaint made to the District Attorney’s office in the County of Santa Clara, California in 2016 and the District Attorney did not proceed any further with the matter due to insufficient evidence to substantiate the allegations. Mr Hayne provided all reasonable assistance to the District Attorney with that investigation.

“Mr Hayne unequivocally and vehemently denies the allegations which are the subject of the civil complaint. Mr Hayne will not be making any further comment in relation to this matter.” #jerusalemA post shared by Jarryd Hayne (@jarrydhayne38) on Dec 10, 2017 at 2:30am PSTAngel 1st bday.A post shared by Jarryd Hayne (@jarrydhayne38) on Dec 16, 2017 at 6:29am PSTJarryd Hayne documents by FairfaxPolitics on Scribd

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Homes of the HunterNewcastle WestPhotos

Homes of the Hunter | Newcastle West | Photos TweetFacebookX Files DVDS.

“I bought the bookshelf from Ikea, and it adds a lot of character to the place,” Mitchell says.

“I don’t want to add colour for no reason. There was a lot of deliberation regarding the cushions on the couch. The black clock was Stephen’s. It’s just there for aesthetics. I took the battery out because the ticking was driving me nuts.”

Mitchell describes his room as being shaped like the Superman emblem, which is nicely complemented by his stand-up bass. Although he does play, he says it’s there for aesthetics. He has the smaller bedroom, but he gets the bigger bathroom.

“I like that there’s the rooftop, that’s sick,” Mitchell says. “Everyone shares that. It’s a nice view of the city, you can see the interchange.”

He’s adjusting to downsizing in space, but he says now it just feels like the whole house is his bedroom. They have a balcony with a view of the city where Ben likes to eat his breakfast. Here he’ll watch people test-riding new bikes as he’s right next to the bike shop.

“I think it works well because I have extremely weird, long, different hours,” Roberts says. “I don’t think my lifestyle would have worked with a 9-5 person. But me and Ben are pretty free-flowing. Last night at 1amBen asked me to buy some laundry detergent on my way home from the Roost.”

Mitchell isn’t just an illustrator, he also creates a comic series called Storm Clouds.

“My whole last comic was about living in a share house, and all the stuff that was really driving that narrative is no longer a part of my life,” Mitchell says.

“There’s nothing that I regret or dislike about that time of my life, but it’s interesting to see it on the page and starting a new chapter of my life with apartment living. In a share house no one feels like they own anything. We never decorated the living room because we’d have to check with everyone. Stephen enjoys anything I do to it. He loves the cushions. He loves the bookshelf.”

Mitchell loves holding rooftop dinner parties. However, when he first moved in, he had a bit of a mishap while cooking and sliced his finger open. Stephen ended up taking him to the hospital.

“If I had done this in my other house I would have died,” Mitchell says.

“Since Ben’s come along it’s added some character to the house,” Roberts says.

The apartment block just became open for residents earlier this year, and the space is a perfect example of modern urban living. Throw in Mitchell and Roberts with their unique personalities and creative endeavors, and Newcastle West becomes a little more interesting.

Have a home that could feature in Weekender? We’d love to see it.Email [email protected]南京夜网419论坛

‘Gloopy American schmaltz’: Our review of Titanic, 20 years on

First published in the Sun-Herald on December 21,1997

Here’s the skinny on the most expensive and possibly most anticipated movie of the year: Titanic doesn’t look like it cost $250 million. It’s half an hour too long, thanks to gloopy American schmaltz.

But, and it’s a big but, there are moments of suspense which will have even the blase digging their nails into the armrest. And the scenes involving the ship’s death throes are some of the most spectacular ever on screen.

So, does the average punter looking for a disaster movie extraordinaire, a 1990s Poseidon Adventure with whizzbang effects, get their money’s worth? Yes, indeedy. With a three hours-plus running time, what you get is almost two movies (romantic drama and action mayhem) in one.

It opens on a 1990s diamond-hunter (Paxton) who explores the wreck of the Titanic 12,000 feet below the North Atlantic’s surface.

That’s mostly an excuse for Aliens director James Cameron to flash some expensive hardware and give audiences some poignant footage of the real ship. (Cameron himself shot the deep-dive footage two years ago as a catalyst for his long-cherished project.)

The story centres on the discovery of well-born Rose, a survivor of the 1912 disaster. She tells the story, of her forbidden romance with a free-spirited artist (DiCaprio). So, cut to Cameron’s depiction of the world’s biggest luxury liner, the “unsinkable” Titanic: 269 metres in length (Cameron duplicated at 236 metres) and carrying 2,223 passengers.

Despite all the money thrown at the screen, the boat sometimes looks touched-up, fuzzy where it hits the water, noticeably round the stern. And the fatal iceberg looks like Styrofoam.

But the way Cameron’s camera roams so intimately round the first class private promenades and boxy third class quarters gives viewers a real sense of being on board.

Indeed, its immediacy, the way the pace steadily increases, the plot’s classic tragedy, makes this a movie which grabs viewers by the scruff of the neck and demands, “What would you do?”

It’s nice also to be given two characters whom you can unreservedly cheer on. As the cloistered 17-year-old, stifled by her upcoming wedding to a wealthy prat (Billy Zane), gorgeously gowned English rose Winslet is a beautiful rebel in traditional head-tossing mode.

Marvin’s Room drama genius DiCaprio occasionally takes the easy-smirking option but his impish approach (“This is bad”) is a shrewd link to younger viewers. Older viewers, if they’re not hooked by the lavish historical detail and rich gallery of characters, can enjoy arch performers like Kathy Bates as showgirl Molly Brown. Plus a story which perfectly captures the grim reality that in the 20th century, nothing in life – or technology – is certain.

Rating: M

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates, Bill Paxton

Critic’s Warning: Language, gunplay, mass fatalities.

Critic’s Rating: 8 out of 10.

First published in the Sun-Herald on December 21, 1997

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Genial bear still has plenty of charm

PADDINGTON 2 ??????????? G, 103 minutes, now showing in general release

Director Paul King and the producers of the Paddington movies select their villains with great care.

In the first film, it was an implacable Nicole Kidman as a museum curator out to add Paddington’s hide to her collection. This time, it’s a monstrously vain Hugh Grant as Phoenix Buchanan, a once-celebrated actor reduced to starring in dog food commercials.

Valiantly displaying his willingness to play the fool in a good cause, Grant prances through the part as if born to it, assisted by an extensive assortment of props. Phoenix fancies himself a master of disguise, so he’s permitted fancy dress, false whiskers and silly walks.

This is actually meant to be Pooh Bear’s year. Now 91, he’s been honoured with an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum and a bio-pic of his creator, A. A. Milne, and his son, Christopher Robin.

But fans of Pooh’s friendly rival, Paddington, haven’t got the message and they’re sticking with their favourite. Paddington 2’s British box-office exceeded that of the original during its opening weekend and the reviewers have been equally enthusiastic.

It starts with a flashback recalling Paddington’s beginnings in the Peruvian jungle with his beloved Aunt Lucy and Uncle Pastuzo. Then it sets us down in London’s Windsor Gardens, where the bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) is still enjoying life as part of the Brown family.

It’s a London we see only in fairytales – a perennially sunny village full of people who look as if they’re about to launch into a song-and-dance number. And all the regulars are back although there are one or two changes.

Hugh Bonneville is looking a little more harassed as Henry, the patriarch, who has missed out on an expected job promotion, and Sally Hawkins as Mary, his wife, is cherishing an unlikely ambition to swim the English Channel.

But Paddington is more popular than ever among all the Windsor Gardens residents. His only enemy is a crabby Peter Capaldi, the neighbourhood xenophobe, who would only be happy if everybody looked and behaved like him.

Things start to go awry when Paddington decides to give Aunt Lucy an expensive 100th birthday present – an antique pop-up book he’s found in the local antique shop. To raise the money, he takes an ill-fated job as a barber’s assistant, followed by a stint as a window cleaner.

And both supply the opportunity for a couple of gently choreographed slapstick routines, their appeal rooted in Paddington’s well-meaning disposition and his unfailing ingenuity.

Whishaw’s voice is perfect for him. There’s no cuteness in it. Nor is there any hint of the pumped up jollity that Disney likes to give its cartoon animals. It catches Paddington’s fragility and his stoicism, along with his determination. Best of all, he never says too much.

It’s at this point that Phoenix begins to screw things up, breaking into the antique shop and stealing the pop-up book. Paddington is blamed and sent to gaol, where we meet a new cast of characters, led by Brendan Gleeson as the fearsome Nuckles, the prison cook, who takes to Paddington after getting a taste of one of his marmalade sandwiches.

The performances are all pitch-perfect but even the sorry sight of Paddington languishing in a prison cell can’t disguise the fact that the story needs more tension. Kidman was genuinely scary but Grant’s mugging – accomplished as it is – fails to drum-up the slightest hint of menace.

Nor is it meant to. Action is the thing here. The denouement is a slapstick marathon scaled up to take in two steam trains and a sea plane, and although it’s as cleverly put together as you’d expect, it doesn’t set the pulse racing.

At least, the pulse of an adult who has seen hero and villain battle on the roof of a speeding train in countless other movies.

Young children, however, may see it differently and Paddington, who must have the most expressive eyes ever seen on a CGI animal, has such durable charm that the film’s shortcomings are overridden by its good-natured spirit.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.