Sydney Opera House


Sydney Opera House



Completion date


The Sydney Opera House is a pure icon.

Our work at this famous venue includes:

  • A review of the orchestra pit
  • Updating the venue's stage management desk

The Orchestra Pit

The 1,500 seat Opera Theatre of the iconic Sydney Opera House plays host to world-class ballet, opera and contemporary dance performances by the Australian Ballet, Opera Australia and a variety of national and international touring companies. 
The orchestra pit of the Opera Theatre is architecturally unique in its design, extending significantly further beneath the stage than many other venues. While being able to accommodate 70 musicians, the pit’s unconventional design has posed a challenging environment for musicians due to exposure to high sound levels and limited projection of instruments located at the rear of the pit.
We undertook a survey of the floor structure resulting in a custom riser system being developed, and a new step in the pit floor. This increased the pit volume and ceiling height and enhanced sightlines to the conductor. Installation of acoustic treatments to the walls and scenic surfaces addressed the high sound levels. The changes improved the sound distribution in the pit, and projection into the auditorium.
Changes to the pit ceiling included resolving un-even air supply issues and modifying loudspeakers and overhead lighting. Risers were added for the percussion section, video monitoring installed to assist sightlines to the conductor, new music stands with on-board sconces were selected, and cable reticulation and management throughout the pit was improved.

The Stage Management Desk

A venue’s Stage Management desk houses all the control equipment for the coordination and operation of performances. Each unit gives the stage manager access, communication and control to coordinate the performance. It is critical that the whole system works flawlessly and immediately. It needs to be intuitive and simple.
As part of the largest technical upgrade project since the Sydney Opera House opened in 1973, Marshall Day Entertech was engaged to design the new stage management desks for the Sydney Opera House used by both the in house team of stage managers, as well as visiting stage managers from all over the world. 
The consoles need to integrate with the complex systems they control, be robust to withstand the day-to-day rigours of the theatre and be easily serviced when required.
Our teams' major focus was on the needs of the stage manager, with extensive consultation with users, ergonomic research and development applied to ensure accessibility and comfort for all users. 
Marshall Day Entertech’s prototypes were produced and fabricated in Germany to specifications delivered and installed by Rutledge Engineering, Theatre Plan LLP and Salzbrenner Stagetec. 

Winner in the 2012 Sydney Design Awards