LIKE elsewhere in the Australian work force, an industrial revolution is happening in the pit of the Sydney Opera House. Under a new interpretation of WorkCover rules, players in the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra can't be exposed to sound levels higher than 85 decibels averaged over a day.
This will have implications for orchestral music generally, but its immediate impact is being felt on, of all things, the Australian Ballet's Sleeping Beauty. To avoid any one musician being exposed to excessive sound, the orchestra is working with relay teams of extra musicians: four separate horn sections, four of clarinets, four of flutes, and so on. The orchestra that begins a particular performance isn't necessarily the same one that finishes it.