In 2015 the Opera House announced it would self-fund a $45 million Renewal project to replace theatre equipment that had reached the end of its operational life in the Joan Sutherland Theatre, improving reliability, functionality and safety in the world-famous theatre. The NSW Government contributed a further $26 million to enable additional venue improvements, which took place during a seven month closure between May and December 2017.
On New Year’s Eve 2017 the Opera House reopened the Joan Sutherland Theatre after major building works. Changes to the theatre included:
- A new theatre flying system that is quieter, safer and more reliable;
- Improved grid deck providing a more flexible system of hoists and a clearer, more open work area;
- Partial replacement of the auditorium lighting, a new sound console and followspot room;
- Upgraded orchestra pit and the installation of a state-of-the-art acoustic enhancement system to better distribute orchestral sound around the JST and improve playing conditions for musicians; and
- Six additional female toilets to better service audience members.
As planned, a number of additional works commenced during the closure and will continue into 2018. These works include:
- A new rehearsal room that will provide resident companies and other performers with a purpose-built, state of the art practice facility, with an improved layout that better meets their needs. Due for completion end of March for when the Ballet returns in March 2018;
- A level passageway suitable for wheelchairs to provide wheelchair access to the JST Northern Foyer; and
- A new lift in the Northern Foyer to provide wheelchair access to all levels for the first time. This will also enable older or less mobile patrons to access the theatre’s circle seating via a lift to reduce the number of stairs.
These works are due for completion in mid-2018.
The JST upgrade is the first part of a larger program of Renewal works funded through a $202 million investment by the NSW Government. It includes upgrades to the Concert Hall, entry foyers and arrival area under the Monumental Steps, as well as new function and creative learning centres, bringing the total value of Stage 1 Renewal to $273 million.
Read on Backstage: how we celebrated New Year's Eve with the reopening of the Joan Sutherland Theatre
Download the Joan Sutherland Theatre fact sheet