Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The New Florence Opera House

After years of talking about the need to provide Florence, and its renowned opera festival Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, with a modern opera house, last year the dream was (partially) realized. A 255 million Euro public investment was planned to finance the ambitious project of the New Florence Opera House which represents an avant-garde music center for all of Europe. After having received a 150 million Euro grant for the 150th anniversary of the Italian Republic, which was in 2011, the Opera House was able to have its inauguration in honor of this celebration last December in the main auditorium. 

However, as is almost always the case in Italy (with government funding especially), the money has run out and, without the missing 80 million, completion of the complex is still a mirage. Unfortunately, the current economic situation doesn’t bode well for a quick solution to the problem. So, for now, Florentines and the world must make the most of the sporadic performances that are being offered in a more subdued form.

Both from an architectural and artistic perspective, this new theater is state of the art. The challenge of successfully incorporating a very modern structure into the fabric of a Renaissance city like Florence is always great – especially when considering that many Florentines have the tendency to resist change.

However, the final result seems to have received general consensus. The abstract building, designed by Paolo Desideri of the Studio ABDR in Rome, is impressive. The location is strategic, between the Leopolda Station and the Cascine Park, offering spectacular views of the historic city center from the open-air amphitheater on the roof. 

From an acoustic standpoint, it is considered to be one of the best in Europe. Another valuable asset is the opera house’s illustrious general director, Zubin Mehta, who has followed the project every step of the way, contributing his valuable talent and experience towards the realization of the main auditorium, to ensure maximum comfort and quality.

In addition to the completed main auditorium which accommodates 1800, the project promises a smaller third hall, for a total capacity of nearly 5000 spectators, including the amphitheater. Planned are also 18 rehearsal studios, offices, a cafĂ©, a huge garden and a large parking area. Fingers crossed… 

Under the circumstances, we will have to make due with what there is, so tomorrow’s opening of Puccini’s Turandot shouldn’t be missed. Performances will continue through Dec. 5th. The complete schedule can be found on the Maggio Fiorentino’s website.

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