Australia’s cultural icon has the worst acoustics of all the country’s major classical music venues.

It may be the most beautiful and instantly recognisable building in the country, synonymous the world over with fine music-making and prestige, but musicians who play regularly at the Sydney Opera House say its acoustics don’t befit its stature.

A survey conducted by Limelightmagazine of 200 performers, critics and industry experts has yielded damning results for the Sydney Opera House’s 1,507-seat Opera Theatre, which was voted the worst of 20 major classical music venues around the country. Its 2,679-seat Concert Hall ranked 18 th.

The country’s most frequented concert and opera venue has been plagued by accusations of sub-par acoustics since its opening in 1973. The imbalance between the building’s aesthetic and acoustic standards is said to be the legacy of the famous switcheroo that occurred during the construction process. When architect Jørn Utzon quit the project amid tensions in 1966, his plans were altered: the larger hall, originally intended for opera, became the cavernous Concert Hall, and a cramped orchestral pit was installed in the smaller performance space, now the Opera Theatre.

The most outstanding acoustics in Australia, according to the survey, belong to the...

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