Re-inauguration of the Sydney Opera House with impressive and vibrant sound
Seven months of renovation were more than worthwile: the upgraded orchestra pit and a new sound experience enthuse musicians and audience alike in the Joan Sutherland Theater
The Joan Sutherland Theater – the real opera hall at the Sydney Opera House – was officially inaugurated with the operetta "The Merry Widow" on December 31, 2017. On February 10, 2018, the venue started its regular opera season with the first performance of Bizet's opera "Carmen", showcasing the achieved structural improvements and upgraded technical installations.
During the extremely short renovation period of seven months, a broad set of measures was realized. The precise planning and shifts round the clock made it possible to minimize the construction period which was absolutely essential for the Opera Australia and the Australian Ballet. The largest share of the renovation costs was related to the replacement of the complete stage machinery planned by TheatrePlan, London, and executed by Waagner-Biro, Vienna. However, the improvements most noticeable to the audience are the acoustic measures taken.
Since the Opera House's inauguration in 1973, the orchestra had to put up with the unfavorable conditions in the low orchestra pit with its two thirds overhang. At the same time, it had tolerate the constraints resulting from the necessary countermeasures. The now completed renovation of the orchestra pit planned by Müller-BBM as well as the use of the latest features of a room enhancement system ensure a completely new sound experience for the orchestra and the audience.
Maximizing the pit opening and optimizing the wall and ceiling claddings while taking into account the complex conditions of such a large orchestra pit overhang resulted in a considerable improvement of both the acoustic perception of the musicians and the sound in the auditorium. Essential for this improvement is the innovative Vivace room enhancement system which creates a clear and transparent orchestra sound as well as an impressively vibrant 3D sound experience in the entire auditorium.
At the same time, the musicians in the orchestra pit overhang also benefit from the improved acoustic conditions which help them hear other members of the orchestra and their own instrument without being exposed to an increased sound level.
Müller-BBM is proud of having creating acoustic conditions that finally meet the standard of this international and architectural lighthouse project. The musicians' joy and happiness more than offset all the efforts put into the two years of planning, the very intense construction period as well as into the fine-tuning of the Vivace system during numerous orchestra rehearsals.