From their own foyer, the Grand Ring patrons get a sneaky view of R Fraser Elliot Hall below

Opera House goes Public

The opening of a public building, especially one that performs so popular a function as the Four Seasons Centre, is very much akin to the lifecycle of an insect. Not content with just one birth, it has many, and at each it takes a new form.

First the project is announced, and the location selected; then the births begin. The groundbreaking ceremony kicks it off; the construction tours continue it. The building is finished, and the ribbon cutting ceremony celebrates its completion. Then comes the big gala opener boldly announcing itself to the world. Soon, the final birth will occur, when the building first hosts an actual opera, in this case, the Ring Cycle. Now though, was its penultimate birth, the weekend it first opened its doors to the public at large.

And the public responded, in large numbers.

With mini concerts going on in the Richard Bradshaw Ampitheatre, maps for self-tours, and a guided tour that included a chance to walk on the behemoth of a stage, there were plenty of opportunities to explore - the guided tours were so popular that they had to be signed-up for over two hours in advance. All the bells and whistles, all the finishing touches that weren't quite there for the ribbon cutting had been put into place; it was a celebration of the opera house at its finest.

I can tell you now that the sound in the main auditorium is superb. Although I wasn't able to hear any opera sung as the mini-concerts were going on elsewhere, inside the auditorium, you could hear just about anything that went on there. From people talking on the other side of the balcony, to the sound of footsteps as patrons tested out the semi-sprung stage floor, the sounds were crisp, full, and real. As for the mini-concerts going on just outside, they were inaudible from within the main auditorium (to give you an idea of the volume of these mini-concerts: after leaving the buidling, and standing across the street at University and Queen, I could still hear the arias being sung - but inside: nothing). I am told that the auditorium was given an accoustic isolation rating of N1 - I've no idea what that actually means, but from what I was told, it makes it quieter than a night in the Sahara, so long as nobody is talking.

It's going to be a beautiful building, and staging some beautiful operas. If you've time today, between PS Kensington and Pride, try to make your way down. If not, just enjoy the shows once they open.

The evolution is nearly complete.


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