“When we came back unloading La Traviata we thought ‘Right, this place is becoming a theatre again.’ And that feeling was there with the crew as well. They were really looking forward to after it being a drilling site for so long to actually having scenery come in, using the cranes for what they’re designed to do, using the lifts, hanging stuff on the flybars, that sense of putting a show on.”
2018 is going to be a big year, he says, when OA’s repertoire is in full swing.
“For Merry Widow the rear lifts will be going, chain hoists are going to be flying. We’ll be going from an interior scene, pushing trucks out of the way, setting it back—so there’s quite a lot of work done in the interval breaks. I think it’ll be us using the hoist equipment, getting used to how it all works, the operation of rear lifts which are quicker now.
“We won’t be realising the full potential of the new machinery with one production … we’ll really test the system in 2018, when we start bringing in Carmen and The Nose and the rest of La Traviata, and when we bring in Don Quichotte. And we do our repertoire season and we start changing things over, going from Saturday matinee into an evening performance in two and a half hours. That’s when we’re going to be really pushing the system. That’s when it will come into its own."
Lou Rosicky, Theatre Integration Manager at Sydney Opera House has been overseeing the theatre machinery upgrade since its inception. He believes the project will open up new opportunities for creativity between both the artistic companies and the technicians.
"It's a generational change in terms of the stage machinery. It's a real shift for the technicians, both in how they operate the equipment and how they approach it—how they respond to the challenges that the directors and choreographers put in front of them.
"It future proofs us and gives the performers and staff confidence in how to stage shows that would have been a lot more technically demanding in the past. It's really going to change the way we do shows."
As crowds descend onto the Forecourt, the fireworks team prime their grand show across the harbour—on and under the Harbour Bridge, atop the Opera House's sails. Inside, the theatre lifts and machinery will churn, hauling stone walls and lavish art deco facades onto the stage, from the early hours of dawn until the curtains rise at night to rapturous applause. This New Year's Eve, history will be made in a grand celebration on the stage, behind the stage, and in the sky.