Andrew's Opera was previously published at

21 April, 2024

And it's good night from him.

 Dear Readers,

I have given up writing notes of operas in Sydney as you may have noticed … it does not mean I have lost enthusiasm for opera but since retiring from medical practice a year ago I have broadened my tastes to include much in the newly renovated Opera House Concert Hall as well as diverse plays and musicals elsewhere.  With so many shows I am at risk of developing Stendahl’s syndrome! 

Last week the Australian Haydn Ensemble performed a program including a ‘cut-down’ concert version of Beethoven’s 7th symphony, a staggering and successful achievement.  They performed at numerous country and city venues in New South Wales and ACT to their great credit.  They will also shortly embark on their first American tour including Carnegie Hall, Washington DC and California.  More strength to them I say.  We can compare with the full symphonic version of the great Beethoven 7 by the SSO in just a few weeks time.  We were told by maestro Skye Macintosh that 200 years ago most people in Europe (and Australia) would have only heard such cut-down versions as city orchestras were simply not accessible for most in the pre-railway era. 

As a young teenager my parents gave me the old Szell vinyl records of Beethoven’s symphonies, one disc per month.  Each precious recording was and remains for me a revelation of these magnificent works. 

 After a successful season of Tales of Hoffmann with Jessica Pratt in all four soprano roles this amazing diva performed an evening of ‘Mad Scenes’ in the SOH concert hall.  We heard an unforgettable display of fioritura, energy and showmanship … with an encore of ‘Glitter and be Gay’ from Candide.  Then a rare concert performance of La Gioconda starring Jonas Kauffman blew everybody’s sox off, largely due to the other imported singers as our German tenor hero was below his best. 


The amazing new acoustic and amenity was provided by ARM Architecture, then headed by Tony Allen.  His firm had also worked on Hamer Hall, MTC auditorium, Melbourne Recital Centre and many other large projects.  The firm received some well deserved prizes this year from NSW architectural gurus for its Concert Hall work.  Furthermore they are in line for some national awards following the 50-year Sydney Opera House upgrade.  Their brief included safety, access, acoustics and heritage, each addressed brilliantly IMHO. 

The changes have been truly dramatic in many ways, some obvious such as the new acoustic ceiling petals, wood panelling and new passageway to the northern foyer.  Other features are less obvious such as quieter air-con, stage lowering and racked platforms for the orchestra.  There is a new elevator and better facilities for the disabled, so necessary for our aging population. 

Best wishes to all my faithful readers over such a long period (since emails were invented I think). 

Andrew Byrne .. 

For an old sample of my opera notes: Andrew's Opera: 2002 (

 And my oldest posting: Andrew's Opera: Andrew's Opera: 1994 (

Other high points: Sweeney Todd, Ray Chen (violin and SSO), Rach 1 and 2 with Stephen Hough, Bell Shakespeare (R&J, Scottish Play), Hayes Theatre in Kings Cross ‘neglected musicals’.