Operatic ambitions

It is sometimes said that one of the key characteristics of a of a world class city is the existence of a well-maintained opera house. I believe I am right in saying that Dublin is one of the very few capitals in Europe – maybe the only one if you except Liechtenstein and San Marino – that does not have such a cultural facility. In other cities worldwide the opera house is a defining institution, such as Covent Garden in London, the Sydney Opera House, or the Opéra National in Paris.

Capital investments in the performing arts may not, in Bord Snip times, be seen as a huge investment priority, and it clearly won’t happen for the next year or two. But now is the time to look more closely at possible longer term plans. It is not that Dublin doesn’t have opera – it clearly has – but it doesn’t have a proper facility. National self-respect suggests we need to look again. It’s time to take all our national melodrama and put it where it belongs, in the opera.

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8 Comments on “Operatic ambitions”

  1. Vincent Says:

    If there is one thing that annoys me and that is the under utilization of facilities, hospital operating theaters for example. But even more annoying is their mean spirited scrooge-like retention by some committee of glass-eyed fanatics thinking that the space would be polluted was a tankard being swigged rather than a wine flute.
    Further, not every troop of actors needs a theater. Nor every soccer team their own field. But having said that, I was having a look on the website of the National Concert Hall, it seems that Opera has over the next three months as much if not more of a presence than anything else, and up to the end of the year there are 52 days when the Hall is empty.
    Soooooo, here is my solution. The National Concert and Opera Hall, the Nacoopha. National pride protected with the addition of eight letters.

    • Thanks, Vincent – but it needs to be pointed out that an opera house in terms of the way it is designed and constructed is something very different indeed from a concert hall. An opera house needs to have certain dimensions, it needs to have a much larger stage than a concert hall, and it needs to have an orchestra pit. Without all that, you can only stage very trimmed down versions of some operas, and others you can’t do at all…

      • Vincent Says:

        Yes, but there is one in Cork and another in Wexford. While an hour up the road you have the Grand. Not everything has to be in Dublin. And anyway there are 2 in Denmark, 4 in Belgium, 10 in the UK, 3 in Greece. All with vastly more people.
        Also you mention Sydney, if it was not for that building and the bridge beside it, one would be hard pressed to find anything culturally iconic to that city or state. Something one could hardly accuse this island of having a shortage. We have cultural icons comming out of our ears.

    • Vincent, a PS: I’m not sure that a proposal to stage operas in hospital operating theatres would be a starter… 🙂

      • Vincent Says:

        Are you so sure. I would have thought it would have the narrow savagery to make it an ideal for an Opera.

  2. pennybridged Says:

    I couldn’t agree more. While the Gaeity theater does well we most definately need a dedicated opera house in this country.

    The National Concert Hall is exactly what it says on the tin – a concert hall. While groups like Lyric Opera manage to make the most of it and with limited budget too, it is not a building for opera productions. For a start the view of violin bows above stage level is a problem.

    Also on the NCH, to the best of my knowledge, it is rarely empty. On the dates it doesn’t have public performances, it has charity / private events taking place.

  3. Mark Says:

    Having been a long time reader of this blog I’m very surprised at this post, I thought you were more pragmatic.

    Suggesting building a opera house is rather strange considering we have far more problems, and had far more problems in the boom times, that would that take precedence over a high-cost, low-return, niche-interest, operatic building.

    It is, and rightly, way, way down the list. 2 years? 10/15 – maybe…

    • Well, Mark – I did say this was not going to be an immediate priority, and I was thinking of ‘long term priorities’. 10-15 years seems about right. It takes a long time to plan it properly anyway.

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