After two years of extensive renewal works, the Sydney Opera House will reopen the historic Concert Hall on 20 July 2022 with a grand performance by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

The NSW Government-funded upgrade is the largest and final project in the Opera House’s Decade of Renewal – a 10-year program of capital works totalling almost $300 million to upgrade the iconic World Heritage-listed masterpiece ahead of its 50th anniversary in 2023.

The complex renovation and transformation of the Concert Hall, the Opera House’s largest performance space, combines respect for heritage with cutting-edge technological innovations, including state-of-the-art theatre machinery and staging systems, which will better equip the venue in presenting an ambitious range of performances, from classical music to contemporary concerts, theatre and beyond.

In addition to improved acoustics for artists and audiences in both orchestral and amplified mode, the renovation ensures enhanced access for people with mobility needs, and provides a more flexible and safer working environment for staff behind the scenes.

“The Concert Hall is the beating heart of the Opera House. The renewal of this magnificent performance space will ensure the Opera House remains relevant and contemporary for the people of NSW and the rest of the world. The NSW Government is proud to have supported this important project, which will secure our nation’s most significant cultural icon for the next generation, with a positive and lasting impact on the community for years to come,” Minister for the Arts Ben Franklin says.

Sydney Opera House CEO Louise Herron says, “We’re thrilled to be welcoming the community back to the renewed Concert Hall. Artists and audiences are set to experience world-class acoustics in a venue that is more accessible, safer and better equipped to present the full breadth of 21st century performance. We have been working towards this moment for a long time and are incredibly grateful to the NSW Government and to everyone else involved in making this once-in-a-lifetime project possible.”

Enhanced acoustics for a better listening experience

  • 18 new acoustic reflectors above the stage replace the old clear acrylic ‘donuts’. These ‘acoustic petals’ are set in a range of different positions, depending on the music being played.
  • Special acoustic diffusion panels have been added to the venue’s timber box fronts, allowing for a more balanced and true sound for non-amplified performances.
  • A new state-of-the-art sound system has also improved the venue’s capability for amplified performances.

Cutting-edge staging and theatre systems

  • Automated stage risers will allow musicians, particularly classical musicians who typically sit in a horseshoe formation, to hear each other more clearly.
  • New automated draping system will make it easier to switch from orchestral to amplified mode, and to dampen reverberation and create a fuller, richer sound for amplified music.
  • The new theatre flying system installed above the ceiling will make it easier and safer to fly a greater range of lighting and scenery, enabling larger-scale, more ambitious performances.
  • The stage has been lowered by 400mm to improve sightlines and create more intimacy between artists and audiences.

Improved access and other upgrades

  • A new lift and passageway improves accessibility, making it possible for wheelchair users and people with limited mobility to independently access all levels of the Concert Hall, including its spectacular Northern Foyer, some for the first time.
  • Double the number of accessible seating positions, including options in both the stalls and boxes.
  • Two new rehearsal rooms, funded by the late Peter Weiss, for artists who use the Concert Hall.