Sydney Opera House’s Concert Hall to reopen this month after over two years of renovations

Opera House CEO Louise Herron said artists and audiences could look forward to "world-class acoustics in a venue that is more accessible"

The Sydney Opera House’s iconic Concert Hall will reopen to the public this month after two and a half years of renovations.

Upgrades focused on both improving the overall concert experience as well as providing greater accessibility for patrons. 18 acoustic reflectors and diffusers will provide better sound quality, while a new lift and passageway will make the venue more accommodating of people’s mobility needs. Other upgrades include new stage risers and a new theatre flying system.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Opera House CEO Louise Herron said while speaking to the press yesterday (July 14). “For decades, people have dreamed of fixing the acoustics, and we’ve dreamed of replacing the machinery and improving accessibility in the Concert Hall,” she continued.

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“Some of these shortcomings have been very well documented. Musicians around the world dream of playing here, but all too often, the experience has fallen short of expectations, and unmet expectations are really not something that we want at the Opera House. With this upgrade, we have corrected that imbalance.”

“You can feel the clarity and warmth now in both amplified and symphonic mode,” Herron said. “The range of sound is much clearer now.” She added that with the upgrade complete, artists and audiences could look forward to experiencing “world-class acoustics in a venue that is more accessible, safer and better equipped to present the full breadth of 21st-century performance”.

Credit: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

The Concert Hall upgrades marked the last project of the government’s 10-year-long, $300million renewal plan for the Opera House – which first opened nearly five decades ago, in October 1973.

Improvements were carried out with respect to the venue’s Conservation Management Plan, ensuring conservation of its original interiors as designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon and completed by an Australian architectural team led by Peter Hall.

With the Concert Hall set to reopen to the public on July 20 with a performance by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, there’s a large program of events over the coming months for the new and improved space.

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Leon Bridges will perform three shows at the venue in early October, while Archie Roach will perform with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra the same month. In late November, Texan trio Khruangbin will perform shows at the venue as part of their Australian tour.

In December, US jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington will make his return to the Concert Hall for his only Australian headline show of the year, having previously played the venue in both 2018 and 2019.

“The mighty Kamasi Washington blew the roof off the Sydney Opera House on both previous sold-out visits,” said Ben Marshall, the Opera House’s Head of Contemporary Music, when announcing the show. “After a long absence, we could not be more proud to welcome him into our newly refurbished Concert Hall.”

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