The companies had discussed using Sydney's Capitol Theatre, but eventually decided that the Lyric Theatre in the Star City Casino will house the opera and ballet until the A$500 million renovation is completed. The projected finish date would allow the Opera House to open in time for the 2010 seasons.
Although the Lyric Theatre is less of a tourist draw than the grand sweep of the Opera House, the casino's auditorium proved its mettle in 1999 when the Sydney Festival staged the Netherlands Opera's Return of Ulysses there. Whether such a venue can draw the kinds of audiences that the Opera House did remains to be seen.
In related news, the Australian Associated Press reports that the penalty for trespassing on or damaging the Sydney Opera House has become more severe. Anyone who intentionally or recklessly damages, or attempts to damage, the Opera House faces jail terms of up to seven years, thanks to a new state law passed earlier this year, and taking effect today.
The law was enacted after two peace activists painted "No War" on one of the iconic Opera House's "sails" in March 2003, and then received light sentences of nine months' periodic detention and fines.