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Aussie Symphony May Boycott Arena

June 15, 1999

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ One of Australia’s leading symphony orchestras has threatened to boycott the world famous Sydney Opera House, claiming the acoustics are so bad they absorb the sound.

Edo de Waart, the chief conductor with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, told 24 Hours magazine on Tuesday that some design aspects of the building’s Concert Hall were astonishingly bad.

``The energy that we create on stage should go out into the hall,″ de Waart said. ``That doesn’t happen now. The sound circles around and disappears into a dome above the stage.″

Doughnut-shaped reflectors built above the orchestra pit to bounce the sound into the hall ``are a joke, they might as well be toilet seats: they do nothing whatsoever,″ he said.

He said if the interior wasn’t redesigned to fix the acoustics, the orchestra would consider basing itself at another venue.

While considered an architectural masterpiece, the 26-year-old Opera House has long been criticized for poor acoustics and a lack of performance space.

Mary Vallentine, the orchestra’s managing director, said the problem was that the hall not been built to house a full-time orchestra.

``Everyone has an emotional attachment to the Opera House but in the end, it has to be a good concert hall. It just doesn’t work,″ Vallentine said. ``It’s a wonderful piece of architecture, a tourist icon, but it has to work.″

The Sydney Opera House Trust wants to refurbish the building, and has sought suggestions from its Danish architect, Joern Utzon.

Utzon quit the project in 1966 after arguments with the state government over the cost of the building. The interior was not completed to Utzon’s original design.

The trust has also commissioned Australian architectural firm Denton Corker Marshall to advise on changes to the building, which opened in 1973.

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