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Decade of Renewal

News, videos and features about the Opera House’s ten-year Renewal program

Discover the stories

Discover the stories of our decade of renewal, watch videos of the building's transformation and explore galleries of the construction journey.


Read First Nations

“Rebirth and resurrection”

Who better to help reopen the heart of the Opera House than William Barton? The celebrated Kalkadunga musician estimates he has played the venue over 300 times. This week, with clapsticks made from wood salvaged from the stage, he'll perform with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in a triumphant return to the Concert Hall.

New rectangular holes have been added to the ceiling above the stage to allow for the installation of banners and curtains to dampen reverberation and improve the sound for amplified music, image: Chris Bennett
Read Building

In it for the long Hall

The Opera House’s biggest venue has been closed for two years, yet behind its shuttered doors the beat goes on. The hum of thousands of excited concert-goers has been replaced with the buzz of thousands of workers, busy future-proofing the venue for decades to come.

Read Building

Work begins to transform Concert Hall for new era

Better sound, better access and more ambitious performances will be enabled by a $150 million upgrade and renovations.

Read Building

Preserving the Grand Organ

Each of the 10,244 pipes will be cleaned by hand – it's a tricky job.

Joan Sutherland Theatre
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The work that makes magic: Renewing the Joan Sutherland Theatre

One of the world’s great performance venues, the Joan Sutherland Theatre is being renewed for the next generation of artists and audiences.

A man in glasses and a suit standing outside the Sydney Opera House.
Read Talks & Ideas

Sydney Opera House: A Grand Design

Go behind the scenes of legendary TV designer Kevin McCloud's Opera House visit.

Birds eye view of Concert hall in Sydney opera house.
Acoustics Inline and Hero
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Testing the Concert Hall’s acoustic reflectors

Work is underway to make the Opera House sound as good as it looks. Meet the acousticians solving a 40 year-old problem.

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Fine-tuning the acoustics of the Joan Sutherland Theatre

What makes a concert sound good? Here's how our acousticians did it.

A women assessing the Tapestry cloth in a warehouse.
Condition assessment of the Coburn Tapestries, 2017.
Read Art

Restoring the Coburn Tapestries

John Coburn was at the height of his fame when the artist was pitched to architect Peter Hall to design the Sydney Opera House theatre curtains in 1969. Hall had taken over from Danish architect Jørn Utzon and was ushering the building towards completion.


Time lapse of the Concert Hall upgrade 

Since the Concert Hall closed for renovations in February 2020, hundreds of construction workers, acousticians, architecture and heritage experts have been busy delivering the biggest upgrade to the Concert Hall. Watch this incredible time-lapse footage of the renovation work that has taken place inside the venue.

Concert Hall stage demolition

Watch this incredible time lapse of the Concert Hall stage being demolished to make way for renewal upgrades that will improve sightlines, backstage access and the experience for performers and audiences.

Time-lapse of key project milestones since Concert Hall closure

Watch this incredible time-lapse footage of the renovation work that has taken place inside the Concert Hall since its temporary closure in January 2020, as the world-famous venue is transformed for the 21st century. The vision captures key project milestones so far, including the acoustics clouds – known as the ‘doughnuts’ – being winched down, the removal of the chairs, the build of the birdcage scaffold, the demolition and resurrection of the stage, and the installation of automated stage risers, which will improve sightlines and enable musicians to hear each other more clearly.

Work begins to transform the Concert Hall

The Concert Hall is getting a major $150 million upgrade so you can enjoy better sound, better access and more ambitious performances.

Revealing archaeology

A journey through the transformations of the Opera House site evidenced by recent archaeological discoveries.

Testing the acoustics

The new reflectors and drapes are put to the test.

Magic of theatre

Ever wondered what happens in the wings, behind-the-scenes, up in the lights?

Inside the Joan Sutherland Theatre

The curtain rises on $71 million-dollar upgrades.

A grand design

Host of the wildly popular Grand Designs, Kevin McCloud is no stranger to ambitious architectural projects.

Image galleries

The beginning, middle and end of the Sydney Opera House doughnuts

The former acoustic stage reflectors, commonly referred to as ‘doughnuts’ were an iconic backdrop for Concert Hall performances for almost 50 years.

During our decade of renewal, they were removed and replaced to make way for acoustic upgrades, however this is not the end of their story.

As part of our plan to conserve, honour and celebrate the doughnuts, we commissioned performance artist Angela Goh to develop a contemporary artwork, The Concert, which shared an interpretive story of the doughnuts, reimagining them as artefacts that connect us to both our history and the future.

See the unveiled historic Concert Hall upgrade

After more than two years of extensive renewal works, here's a sneak peek of the Concert Hall transformation ahead of reopening. The finely-tuned and complex renovation expands the venue’s potential with new state-of-the-art theatre machinery and staging systems, enhanced acoustics to provide better sound for artists and audiences and improved access for people with mobility needs.

Concert Hall renewal stage demolition and build 

As part of major renovations currently underway to transform the Opera House Concert Hall for the 21st century, the team has been busy carrying out construction work on the Concert Hall stage. This gallery documents the demolition of the stage and the concrete being poured, making way for new automated stage risers that will improve sightlines for audiences.

Concert Hall lift and passageway upgrades

Major construction work is continuing to transform the Concert Hall with significant progress being made on accessibility improvements to the venue to ensure it can be enjoyed by all. Once complete, the Concert Hall will have a new lift and passageway, making it possible for everyone to independently access all levels of the Concert Hall, including its spectacular Northern Foyer.

This gallery documents the progress that has been made on the new lift and passageway. 

Concert Hall Renewal

Take a look behind the doors of the Concert Hall to see how renewal works are progressing inside the famous venue.   

New visitor experience at the Opera House receives Highly Commended Award 

In February 2020, we closed our Concert Hall to commence major construction works as part of our Decade of Renewal.

To continue giving audiences a taste of the Concert Hall, each onsite Opera House tour now begins with a new immersive experience, which takes place inside a purpose-built venue, fitted out with state-of-the-art technology, 270-degree visuals and surround sound, as well as heritage-inspired interiors. In this newly opened space, guests can watch unforgettable moments from past Concert Hall performances and learn about the renewal of the world-famous venue.

We’re proud to announce that this project received a Highly Commended award at the National Trust Awards in the Education and Interpretation Category. 

Concert Hall Renewal

Take a look behind the doors of the Concert Hall to see how renewal works are progressing inside the famous venue.