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

Written by admin on 27/09/2019 Categories: 广州桑拿

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
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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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