Looking out to the Opera House from the corner of Queen and university

Toronto gets its Opera House

It still needs a few finishing touches - getting rid of construction tape here, applying glue to light fixtures there - but it's officially official now: after nearly a quarter century of waiting, Hogtown finally has the opera house it needs.

The outside of the building is gorgeous - at least on the North and West sides. Although there have been naysayers, to my eyes, it is the very model of a modern opera house. It may not be flamboyantly purple in its design, but that's not what Toronto needs; rather than gaudy it has gravitas. The design, using blue-grey bricks and lots of glass is a touch of genius. The brick gives the structure its weight, its power; it makes the building look imposing and important. The glass, especially around the City Room, prevents the Four Seasons Centre from being weighted down by its own ambition; it is light and airy, and opens the house up to the city around it. This is exactly as opera should be - both serious and entertaining; special, yet democratic.

The multi storied City Room, with glass staircase

The inside, at least for the public, is in two parts. The first, the City Room and lobby effortlessly connect with the outside through a glass stairwell and multi-story windows. It is a place to see and be seen, where marble mixes with wood and glass, and where those from the grand boxes mix with the hoi polloi from the upper rings.

The second part is the theatre itself, which is as unassuming as the outside is imposing. With its undulating beige walls, the first impression of the room is not one of awe - but then again, it's not supposed to be. The theatre is a room built to be ignored; at its best, it should slip away completely, leaving only the viewer and the stage, alone together to watch and enjoy. Distractions only take away from the experience, and from the gently curved walls to the revolutionary ventilation system, distractions have been meticulously minimised.

The room though, is not without its charms. Reminiscent of the galactic senate chambers from the newer instalments of Star Wars, it gives off the impression of space while still offering impressive sight-lines and a feeling of closeness. The floors are angled slightly to allow better viewpoints for everybody, and the seats are both sizable and comfortable.

Still, the real test of the Four Seasons Centre will come when the COC starts performing. The accoustics have been carefully designed, but only real life will proof their theories. The first best chance for most of us to hear for ourselves will be June 24th and 25th, when a public open house, and mini-concert will be held. I'll see you there.

A slow exposure shot of the theatre itself

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