Posh, elegant, and indeed royal Opera
The opera scene in the Middle East has, for decades, been rather limited to Cairo and Damascus. As a result, the inauguration of the Royal Opera House Muscat is not only seen as an addition
, but also a step change.
In 2001, his majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said gave the order to build Oman’s, and nominally the Arabian Peninsula’s, very first opera house. Ten years later, in October 2011, the ambitious project of building the Royal Opera House Muscat was finally completed.
The Royal Opera House Muscat was designed by one of the world’s most creative design consultants: WATG. Their portfolio of projects includes some of the region’s prominent landmarks like King Abdullah Economic City in Saudi Arabia and the Atlantis in Dubai. The Omani opera house fuses classical and contemporary architecture, creating a piece of architectural art that warrants a visit in its own right. Extra attention has been paid to details with small, but elegant, decorations around every corner. Budgetary constraints were slashed in the name of luxury, and the outcome is a super extravagant edifice that comes adorned with crystal chandeliers, masterfully hand-carved wooden fixtures and posh inlaid marbles.
A 1,100-seater venue, the capacity of the Royal Opera House Muscat could be perceived as limited, especially when compared to other iconic opera houses around the world like the one in Paris or New York. Nonetheless, all the Royal Opera House Muscat’s audience, even those booking the cheapest seats, still get quite a decent view of the stage.
The Omani opera house comes equipped with the latest top-notch technologies available, like Radio Marconi's multimedia interactive display seatback system, Mode23, a feature no other opera house has yet installed. In addition, its auditorium has the flexibility to expand and reduce its proscenium arch to fit production requirements.
“We can move this part to the back if we need to make way for the orchestra pit, or we can move it forward if need to. Even the sound engineer desk in the middle can be flipped over and become a row of seats,” elaborated Eman Rafay from the Royal Opera House Muscat Press and Communications Department.
In its opening season, the Royal Opera Huse Muscat spared no effort, or budget, to invite some of the world’s best artists to come and perform. Determined to create a long lasting buzz, its inaugural performance was Opera “Turandot” by Puccini, while its gala performances featured world-renowned tenors Plácido Domingo and Andrea Bocelli. Famous artists that performed during the first season included Arab superstar Magda Al Roumi, prominent cellist Yo Yo Ma, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and American Ballet Theater, producing “Don Quixote.”
If you are a fan of opera or ballet, keep an open eye for performers like Teatro Alla Scala Ballet Company performing “Giselle,” Georges Bizet directing “Carmen,” and Mariinsky Ballet performing “Swan Lake,” among others, who will be coming to the Royal Opera House Muscat very soon.
Without a doubt, the Royal Opera House Muscat is not only a minaret for culture and art, but also a state-of-the-art architecture marvel that paves the way for similar mega cultural projects to spring up in a region where ballet and opera has nothing but a tiny foothold.