The NSW Liberal Government is now reviewing the Barangaroo redevelopment. In the coming weeks the government and the Barangaroo developer, Lend Lease, will negotiate amongst other things, moving a proposed hotel from water to land.
The architect Andrew Andersons, a member of the design team for Barangaroo, says that will provide a perfect opportunity to debate the site for a new performance space that he and big theatrical producers say the city needs.
”Now is the moment,” he said. ”If you are going to accommodate a hotel on land, you have to vary the plan, shuffle things around. It’s a great opportunity to review it and put some genuine facilities in there.”
Sydney’s big need is for a new venue with about 2000 seats where large operas and ballets could be staged. Rather than spending about $700 million on ”incremental changes” at the Opera House, Sydney should build a new one from scratch.
Barangaroo was ideal, but not the cultural void in the headland. ”The idea that cultural facilities are in basements is a bit silly,” Mr Anderson said.
Better to put it in the central precinct, between the commercial towers in the south and the headland park in the north.
The musical producer John Frost, agrees that Sydney needs a new venue. However, rather than one at Barangaroo, he would like to see the restoration of the State Theatre and the purchase of adjoining land to allow back-of-house expansion.
The new discussions are a distinct shift in previous plans where the building of a new Lyric Theatre seemed to have dropped off the radar for the Barangaroo Redevelopment. The current discussions also hint that the preference is now for a 2,000 seat Lyric Theatre rather than the smaller theatre of 1,500 to 1,700 proposed by LIVE PERFORMANCE AUSTRALIA, and it seems that preference is being given to a theatre for LARGE SCALE opera and ballet performances rather than musicals.
As discussed in the Opera Insider Opinion article of July 20th:
the demand is really for TWO new Lyric Theatres. The first for large scale opera and ballet and also to decant from the Sydney Opera House if and when the proposed rebuilding of the current Opera Theatre occurs. The second, an additional theatre for musicals so Sydney has parity in theatre numbers with Melbourne for National touring and off-Broadway development of new musicals in Sydney.
At the end of the day, Sydney is now a World City with a burgeoning theatre and arts scene with an audience growth rate calculated at a 5.9% compounded annual growth rate. It is time for additional lyric theatres in Sydney and the redevelopment of the Sydney Opera House Opera Theatre.