Ireland’s first opera house opens

Ireland’s newest multi-purpose arts centre opens today in County Wexford, designed by the Office of Public Works and Keith Williams Architects.

The Wexford Opera House will be opened later today by the country’s Prime Minister Brian Cowen. 

The €33m (£27m) landmark building, which will be the Irish Republic’s first purpose-built 21st century opera house, will feature a walnut-lined auditorium which aims to offer the experience of being inside a musical instrument, according to OPW project architect Ciarán McGahon.

Other key features include lighting bridges within the room, precision-crafted to be shown off like the bridges of a stringed instrument; a stage and forestage layout with technology that allows the presentation of six different performances in a three-day cycle.

Acoustician Arup Acoustics has designed a sound environment for opera which is expected to be ‘intimate and clear with well-balanced reverberation’.

Horseshoe-shaped balconies, where the audiences in the upper levels are brought in to better contact with the stage, will enhance the experience for audiences and performers.

This layout, which was largely abandoned in 20th century design, enhances the atmosphere by populating the side walls of the auditorium, making the audience more ‘visible’ to itself, says McGahon.

The 2008 Wexford Opera Festival runs from 16 October to 2 November.

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