How would you describe the Sydney Opera House?
The Sydney Opera House is the most visited tourist destination in Australia and still the busiest performing arts centre in the world. Today, for example, the president of Poland took a tour. So, whether it’s Barrack Obama and Angela Merkel or Sampha and Nils Frahm, it’s a wonderful gathering space and a place of inspiration and boldness – it’s the symbol of Australia.
So what’s new?
Well, I’ve been here six years. My vision was to put the opera house on the map. Part of that is refreshing our content in order to broaden our offering – like talks and ideas, children’s programming and contemporary music and theatre. Times have changed, but we have a lot more momentum now, I think. The Sydney Opera House is the greatest building of the 20th century; we must respect what’s made it inspiring and magnificent.
How else are you moving with the times?
We have a new weekend programme called Antidote with guest speakers like Ronan Farrow, Chelsea Manning and Maureen Dowd, among others. There are also events like The Gauntlet – an immersive choral experience in the foyer where the choir and musicians stand still and the audience moves through the choir. We also have the biannual Forecourt Series, where we’ve had up to 40,000 people come to see acts like Florence and The Machine or Tame Impala.
What would you do with a blank cheque?
I’d build an underground theatre with windows in the ceiling so you could look up at the sails of the opera house. I’d need a billion dollars to do it. And it’s probably never going to happen – but what a dream!
What’s coming up?
This month, Prince Harry arrives for the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games (20 October). And, of course, we have a series of events for our 45th Anniversary (13-28 October) that includes Horisont, a free exhibition on Jørn Utzon curated by Line Nørskov Eriksen from the Utzon Center, Denmark.