Restoring the Grand Opera House
In January 2020 the Grand Opera House embarked on its most ambitious restoration and development project in 40 years, aiming to return the beautiful 1895 auditorium to its original splendour, tell the Theatre’s fascinating history and improve customer facilities. Thanks to the support of lottery players and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, this £12.2 million project, which is scheduled to be completed in March 2021, will secure the future of the Grand Opera House for generations to come.
Audience members sitting in the restored auditorium will notice many changes and improvements. As they gaze around the historic 1895 auditorium, they will be struck by the beauty of the plasterwork, decorative features, elephant heads, ornate boxes and and ceiling paintings that will have been repaired, repainted, and restored to their original splendour. They will be sitting in brand-new, purpose-designed seats, replacing the cinema-style seats that have been in place since the 1960s. Carpets and auditorium drapes will also have been replaced, and a new, much-needed air handling system will keep the temperature comfortable for everyone.
As the stage comes alive, shows will benefit from state-of-the-art sound and lighting, and although hidden from view, the ‘fly tower’, where scenery and sets are hung, will have been refurbished and upgraded.
At the interval audiences will have the option of buying a drink at the glamorous new crush bar in the repaired and restored 1980 glass extension on the Great Victoria Street façade, or taking a seat at the beautifully refurbished stalls and circle bars. As they walk around the building they will see a plethora of artefacts, pictures and information panels detailing the fascinating history of the Grand Opera House, and will be able to explore the Theatre’s first ever permanent exhibition, sharing the fascinating stories of the people who entertained audiences over the past 125 years.
Audience facilities throughout the Theatre will have been upgraded too, with more toilets, better access into the auditorium, and improved wheelchair spaces. Northern Ireland’s Premier Theatre will reopen its doors in Spring 2021 as an iconic heritage building that is proud of its 125 years of history, and which is ready to begin writing the story of the next 125 years.
Between now and March 2021 we will be bringing you all the news about the restoration and development project, along with pictures, videos and interviews with the experts overseeing the work.
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Here’s to an exciting journey!