Opera Houses In The World

Opera is considered one of the richest arts in terms of the language of expression since it contains the versatility of art. It plays an effective role in the modernization of societies because of its contribution to the culture, art and social life of its own city. The importance given to opera is a sign of significance given to fine arts. If metropolises are more valuable, important and distinguished than other settlements, this is associated with their cultural and art institutions, monumentality and size of opera houses.

Opera  and  World Cities
The places with required infrastructure, equipment, and size are needed for opera that is performed with great numbers of staff and other branches of fine arts such as drama, ballet, dance, poetry. As the places, where opera performance is practiced, require special constructions and systems, the development of constructions should be provided through opera and more importantly, they should be subsidized considering their high cost. Innovative business models should be developed for the sustainability of opera.

What Kind Of City Do We Want To Live In?
We arrive at the answer of the question that has been shaped by our cultural structure “What kind of city do we want to live in?” by determining our social relations and lifestyles with the aesthetic values and consciousness we have. The environment created in cities is a reflection of the structure of societies. Our cities also recreate the structure of society. .

Authentic and Monumental Constructions
Designing opera houses by metaphorical thinking makes them authentic and monumental. The effect of metaphors with enriched emphasis forms is great on learning and comprehension. We are enriched by perceiving the riches around us. Our perceptions are opened with very different associations in brains and our aesthetic consciousness that is formed by the influence of social relations increases. For this reason, they have a great share in the self-expression of city and city-dweller, and the opera houses become the symbol of the culture they take part in with their physical properties. This aesthetic image achieves spreading across the world with intercultural interaction. Here are some of those aesthetic symbols…

Palau De la Música Catalana as Art Nouveau (Art Building)
It has the feature of being the first concert hall that was lightened with the daylight of Europe. The building is located in the Sant Pere region, one of the most beautiful areas of Barcelona. The Catalan Music Palace that is indicated as one of the world’s most beautiful halls hosts each year more than 300 concerts to which about half a million people join.

Palau de la Música Catalana, which was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997, is the architectural masterpiece of Catalan Art Nouveau representing today an important turning point in the cultural and social life of Catalonia with its brick wall crafting, statues and magnificent stained glasses. Moreover, it is a symbol addressing to the feelings of art lovers and the local community in terms of its cultural heritage intertwined with its history. Domènech Montaner nearly transformed the place, which was designed by gathering sculpture, mosaic, stained glass, brick, ironwork and all decorative arts together, into a magical music box using natural light around it. The glazed centre has an innovative form since it has also been designed as a metal construction.

The concert hall, which is taking daylight from its stained-glass portholes and stained-glass skylight in original inverted vault shaped at the ceiling, gains the building its privileged position with its magnificence. It is a mystical and paradoxical saloon filled with angel statues surrounding the stage with organum, bust of Anselm Clavé representing the Catalan music to the left and bust of Beethoven representing universal music to the right of the stage, natural motifs and figures with more than 2000 roses. In addition, this building is made important with is following features: its foyer, coloured-columned balcony dedicated to the founder of Orfeó Català, Maestro Millet, Lluis Millet Hall, a meeting point for music communities from the 20th century to today, facade with figures and symbols of Catalan folk culture and the statue of St. George through which the scene of killing dragon is pictured.

Champs- Élysées Theater As One Of The Best Art Deco Buildings Of Paris
When the Paris Champs-Élysées Theater came up in 1906, the architectural project mission was given to Henri Fivas. Afterward, the Belgian architect Henri Van de Velde gained a contemporary look to the project for its enrichment. However, Perret brothers were asked for consultancy with his advice. The final stage of the project caused a difference in space and aesthetics. The frontal of Paris Champs-Élysées Theater on Avenue Montaigne is covered with white Auvergne marble. Although the excessive decoration of the building initially led to criticism, it was then appreciated. The best example to describe the reason for this appreciation is entry. Bourdel’s frescoes, who was one of the most known sculptors of the world in those days, are on the wall of the gallery. The names of musicians such as Debussy Faure, D’lndy, Satie, Varèse, and Milhaut were integrated into this building. The building that began to collapse after the 1950s in every sense reached its beauty of 1913 with the restoration in 1980. Paris Champs-Élysées Theatre is one of the best Art Deco buildings of Paris, where the harmonization of symmetry and decoration has been achieved with simplicity and functionality.

The Homeowner Of Classic Music In Barcelona: Gran Teatre Del Liceu
The Gran Teatre del Liceu that was built in 1847 has a central position within the historic fabric of Barcelona. It has the title of being one of the most important opera houses in Europe with its pioneering role and innovative programs of ballet and classical music in La Rambla which has kept its colorful and moving identity over the years. It has been the meeting place of the Catalan bourgeoisie since the day it was founded, it then became more popular with music productions. Today, it is considered as an institution in the city due to its cultural and social importance and managed by the Foundation of Gran Teatre del Liceu. The second fire on January 31, 1994, that took place after a fire and a bomb attack nearly destroyed the entire theatre. Its second reconstruction was made according to the original architectural plans. The saloon that is now one of the biggest performing arts areas in Europe with a spectator capacity up to 2,292 presents the image that combines the various aspects of the 19th-century European opera houses and the decorative elements of the period.

Prague Municipality House With The Works Of Mucha
The Prague City Hall was built in 1905 by the architects Antonion Balsanek and Osvald Polivka in the Art Nouveau style. The main hall is Smetana Hall, however,  club rooms at the first floor, the paintings of Alfons Mucha with his most known works of “Four Seasons” and “The Flowers”, Max Swabinsky, Jan Preisler, Frantisek, Zenisek are also attractive. The exhibition rooms are on the top floor. The café on the ground floor, the beer and wine cellar in the basement are also worth-seeing. The entire municipal house maintains the completeness of its style. Smetana Hall is located in the centre of the City Hall. The concert hall is filled with Ladislav Saloun’s “The Czeck Dance” and statues of “Vysehrad”, K. Spillar’s “Music”, “Dance”, “Poetry” and “Drama” and Frantisek Zenisek’s formal painting. “Praise to Prag“ in the mosaic detail of main front’s dome and mosaic paintings belong to Ladislav Saloun while the group statues at the edges of the rounded top side are of Karel Spiller.

Sydney Opera House With İts Monumentality
Danish architect Joern Utzon, who was not yet known in the world, won the international design competition initiated for the construction of building on September 13, 1955. Sydney Opera House that is in the UNESCO World Heritage List has a privileged place in the history of world architecture with its monumentality and expressionistic style in Bennelong Point where it was built. The historical significance of the opera house is different for the natives of Sydney concerning its relation to the location of Bennelong Point. Bennelong Point, where the opera house is located, was used as a gathering place for the Aborigines before it was built and at this point, there was a cottage built at the request of Bennelong the first native who learned English. The building of construction waited for a long time since technical details of the design cannot be solved and a controversial process occurred due to its high cost more than estimated. Frank Gehry emphasized the faith and perseverance of Utzon in the building of monumental construction which gained a different identity to the city although the press hardly criticized building and campaigns were arranged in this direction. In addition, his statements about the importance of building’s inspiring the new ones in the world are not forgotten. While Utzon received the Pritzker Prize in 2003 as a result of this adventure, the expression technique of architect’s discoveries was considered to be the elements that followed the deeper and fundamental architectural ideas. His works proved that magnificent and almost impossible one can be done in architecture.

Metropolitan Opera House With The Largest Pepertoire Of The World
The construction process of Lincoln Performing Arts Centre in New York corresponds to the period in which culture and mass media influenced each other as a manifestation of the vision of democracy in art. Today, it has the best performing arts places of the city primarily Metropolitan Opera House in the central court with New York State Theatre, New York Philharmonic. The center provides an environment that enables the development of art and allows many people to experience their artistic performance. What is more, it also ensures the economic stability of the region with five million visitors per year with its schools and organizations providing jobs in both art and a wide range of support areas. The Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Centre has the largest capacity of 3.995 people more than any opera house in the world. To conclude, the present construction is the result of an agreement between the Metropolitan Opera House Company desiring to design a traditional opera house and Lincoln Centre preferring the art center’s having an innovative look as a whole. The construction started in 1963 and the first performance of the new opera house was recorded on 11 April 1966 as La fanciulla del West of Giacomo Puccini.

The Place Where Local İdentity Meets Art and Culture: Harbin Opera House
Harbin Opera House, designed by MAD architecture as the cultural center of the future, is in the region of Heilongjiang, northeast of China. It is like a natural construction that occurred with natural formations in the cold zone of the northern climate. Accordingly, the design criteria that started with the current protection principles of the environment does not show a contradiction with its suitable position to topography. The architectural firm wants to transfer local identity, art, and culture. The building was designed with folded frontals by being affected by the indented landscape of Harbin. Public space is created serving the building with the fields formed as a result of gaining an organic look to the frontal with this curvilinearity. Meanwhile, the curvilinearity of outer space is continued in a magnificent grand hall with lagging walls created by maintaining it in indoor. While good acoustics is obtained with the original indoor organization provided by the materials used, the goal of building’s establishing a strong relationship with its outdoor environment by enabling its maximum use of daylight with the window in the ceiling is achieved.

Name Of Functional and Stylistic Transformation: Ankara State Opera and Ballet Building
The current Ankara State Opera and Ballet building were designed and constructed as the exhibition space with its first prize obtained in the project competition in the first years of the Republic. The construction was transformed in functional and formal styles by the German architect John Bonatz in 1946 and started to serve as the present-day opera house. The building, which reflects the characteristics of its period with its modern style, was constructed as an exhibition house in 1933-1934 and its architect is Sevki Balmumcu. In the process of transformation of the building, wall paintings of Cemal Sait Tollu and Bedri Rahmi Eyuboglu, who were important painters of the period, were used as interior decoration elements. Its interior and outdoor character has been completely changed during its transformation from the exhibition house to the opera house and it was turned into a massive and monumental construction that we can define as neoclassical. It provided significant contributions to the transformation of social structure with cultural and social change through art in the city center where it was built at that time, however, it maintains its public service even if it does not provide up-to-date answers to the needs because of today’s increasing urban population and changing technological needs.

“Music Is A Universal Therapy”

We cannot say that everything goes well in the name of people who live in different conditions in all cities of the world with the increasing world population. It is certain that there will be a quite different world than we now live in if each of us can show a reflex to correct something. However, I don’t know if this is possible in practice. It is known that art is the best way to express, understand and tell ourselves. Because what humanity needs are healing and curing. I think it is possible with opera actually fed by many branches of art. These findings may sound like romantic ideas but city-dwellers need to learn about the pattern of behaviors with more aesthetic feelings. Therefore, modes of living with analyses of the concepts such as ethics, social justice, democracy, freedom of life will appear. This means that there will be “richer culture and art life in more beautiful cities”. While opera houses are renewing themselves as cultural interaction center in hinterlands that they will create in the cities of the future, they will continue to take us further from where we are. The aesthetic situation is only mentioned in direct and sensory bond created among the trilogy of human being, construction, and its environment. If we are not talking about the existence of monumental buildings that gain the identity of the city, we cannot mention the presence of an aesthetic value in the surrounding environment. Without a doubt, art is one of the most beautiful ways to Express oneself. Therefore, the existence  of each building serving to the fine arts creates a relationship which reflects its philosophical methodology and ideology. Its meaning is the awareness of aesthetic acquired through perception of beauty forming the lifestyle. In this respect, the cultural richness as well as stylistic reflections of the opera houses can be seen in our lifestyles.

NOTES:

Art of Opera: Past and Present
The first opera of world art history dates back to Italy of the 16th century.Jacopo Peri’sopera titled as “Dafne” was staged in Veniceas part of the Renaissance Movement which was more advanced form of classical Greek drama and spread to Europe in the 17th century.In the 20th century, itmoderniseditself with its cinema language. Operas are sung in many different lan-guages, but the most common ones are Italian, German and English.Screens for translation into the seat backs have been placed in opera halls for speakers of different languages by benefiting from today’s technology. There are many different opera types such as action, romance, comedy, tragedy.

Opera Houses with Outstanding Architecture
Beautiful and important opera buildings that stand out with their architecture: Hungary State Opera House-Budapest, Metropolitan Opera House – United States, Teatro Colón- Buenos Aires Argentina, Teatro di San Carlo- Italy, Vienna State Opera House-Austria, Manaus Opera House-Brazil, Sydney Opera House – Australia, Palais Garnier-Paris, Vienna State Opera-Vienna, Bolshoi Theater-Moscow, La Scala-Milano.

“Madama Butterfly” as Metaphor
Puccini’s ‘Madama Butterfly’ opera is the most important work of world opera literature and its libretto was written by L. Illica and G. Giacosu, and it is about a life journey. There are love, sacrifice, and death in this journey. The essence of the story is the conflict of cultures. It is definitely a love story, but above all, it is a love story that includes tragedy and infidelity. It takes place in Nagasaki, Japan. It tells about the love between American Officer Pinkerton and a young girl Cio-cio-San, Japanese geisha. Butterfly Idea, the idea of a butterfly’s being frail, when we think of its state hanging over the wall in a frame as a metaphor; in reality, this is what we see on stage as a metaphor. It was first staged on 17 February 1904 in Milan, at the La Scala Opera House, under the direction of the conductor Cleofonte Campanini. It is one of the 20 most staged opera works, especially in America.

“Bennelong”
Bennelong is the first Aboriginal native speaking English. In 1788 in Sydney, abductees were tried to be taught English as a solution to the bad relations between the British colony and the native Eora Tribe in Sydney. Bennelong easily learned to live like an English and English language contrary to other Indians and was introduced to English people by being taken to England. In 1789, a cottage was built by the English Governor Arthur Phillip for Bennelong in the area which is now opera house, and this region was used as the assembly point of the Aboriginals. Today, the name of many streets and main roads in Sydney are known as “Bennelong” along with the name of the point where the opera house stands.

Authentic and Monumental Constructions
Designing opera houses by metaphorical thinking makes them authentic and monumental. The effect of metaphors with enriched emphasis forms is great on learning and comprehension. We are enriched by perceiving the riches around us. Our perceptions are opened with very different associations in brains and our aesthetic consciousness that is formed by the influence of social relations increases.

Once Upon A Time Atatürk Culture Center
The building of ACC was opened in 1978 when arabesque and pop music, which affected the art and artist and occurred due to the political and cultural changes in our country, were popular. However, its opera, theatre, concert, exhibition, and cinema projections continued until it closed its doors in 2008 although it did not serve for a while due to the fire. Meanwhile, it witnessed the 80s, 90s, of which reflections were observed in music when the connection with the past weakened, cultural changes were experienced, individuality stood out, and then the effects of globalization on culture and art life in Beyoglu-Pera region. Now it is waiting to rejoin the urban life of Istanbul.

By : Nimet Mert Ağar

*This article was  published in the  May– June issue of Marmara Life.

 

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