Humans are peculiar and are always looking for ways to break their monotonous life routines. What emerged as an escape from boredom, soon became an exemplary skill and people sought ways to display it. Dance, music, theatre, transformed and divided subdivided into many forms. Today performing arts have transformed from an escape route into admirable aspects of society and civilization and are the principal pillars of any culture, religion and heritage.
Additionally, it has become a medium of self-expression and serves as a tool for spreading knowledge and awareness. A place where people can enjoy performing arts is known as a performing arts centre.
Some important performing centres that everyone should know about are:
1. Walt Disney concert Hall
The Walt Disney concert hall designed by Frank Gehry is a paradigm of Deconstructivism in architecture. Undulating forms wrapped in reflective stainless steel have made it a statement building in the Los Angeles cityscape. In the original design, the structural curves were to be cladded with stone. But it was replaced by steel because the stone was costly and very heavy. The vineyard style seating, with a seating capacity of 2,265 people, enables onlookers to have a closer view of the performers from any seat. The interiors are intimate yet filled with natural light.
2. Guangzhou opera hall
Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, the Guangzhou Opera Hall is amazingly beautiful. Residing on the banks of Pearl River, the two-boulder structure resembles two pebbles eroded by the river. It comprises of two auditoriums, the larger has a seating capacity of 1,800 people and the smaller one has seating capacity of 400 people. Both are suitable for operas, concerts and other performance arts. The folds in the structure define different zones of the building and allow natural light in its interiors.
3. Harbin Opera House, China
Located in Harbin, China, the Opera House design is a winning entry by MAD Architects for a competition held for the cultural development of Harbin city. The city is sculpted by the Songhua River and many smaller rivers and experiences a harsh climate with tropical summers and chilling winters. In response to the local climatic conditions and the city’s landscape, the organic form of the building was structured. White aluminium cladding resembles the chilling winters (Harbin is one of the coolest cities in China).
The opera house consists of two theatres, a larger one with a seating capacity of 1600 people and a smaller one to entertain 400 people.
4. Tokyo opera city concert hall
A simple rectangular plan, a distorted pyramidal roof and unmatched acoustic design can sum up the Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall architecture. Audio pioneer Leo Beranek and architect Takahiko Yanagisawa imitated the shoebox design of most European concert halls and topped it with a 91 feet high vaulted ceiling. The concert hall is narrow, measuring only 66 feet in width, allowing sound to reflect and reach quickly to the listeners. The pyramidal roof adds grandeur to space. Wood is the primary material used. It was taken into consideration concerning the aesthetics but raised the problem of sound absorption.
5. Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House is a multi-venue performing arts centre at Sydney Harbour located in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It is one of the 20th century’s most famous and distinctive buildings. It consists of multiple performance venues and hosts about 1.2 million people annually. Listed as a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the new seven wonders of the World, it has become a symbol of Sydney. The modern building design is inspired by the sails of passing ships. The building shells are cladded with white glazed ceramic tiles. The opera house is designed by architect Jørn Utzon and was finished by Peter Hall.
6. The Oslo Opera House
The Oslo Opera House located in Oslo; Norway is the National Opera Theatre in Norway. The existing building was the wining entry for the Oslo Opera House competition. Won by architecture firm Snøhetta, this design displays a strong connection of the building to culture and its surroundings.
The exteriors are sheathed in white granite, white Italian marble and white aluminium. In contrast to the coolness of the white exterior, the interiors are covered in warmth of oak wood.
7. National centre for the performing arts centre, Beijing
Nicknamed the Giant Egg, the performing arts centre was built for the 2008 Olympic games.it is the largest complex theatre in Asia and was designed by French architect Paul Andreu. Its exterior consists of a semi-ellipsoidal shell structure in glass and titanium cladding. The simplistic exteriors seem as if an egg is floating in the water. The magnificent building consists of an opera Hall, a music Hall and a Theatre Hall.
8. The Colosseum
Listed as one of the seven wonders of the world for more than a decade now, the Colosseum is no stranger to travel and architecture lovers. Built in the 70-80 AD, it stands as the largest ancient amphitheatre ever built and was enough to seat 50,000 people. This limestone ruin dominates the city centre of Rome and is one of its significant tourist attractions. A masterpiece of Roman architecture, it hosted spectator events. Its purpose later changed according to the demand of the instant. It is oval and was 50 m high when built. Its three-storied seating represented all major architectural orders of that time.
9. Amphitheatre El Jem
The El Jem amphitheatre in El Jem city of Tunisia is a roman architecture marvel. With an estimated seating capacity of 35,000 spectators, it is one of the largest and most well-preserved stone ruins of the Roman era. Like all other roman theatres, this was also used for spectator events like dramas, battles, etc. Made entirely of stone blocks, it has served more than just a theatre throughout its existence. In the middle ages, it was used as a fortress to shelter citizens from attacks of the Vandals and the Arabs. In the first half of the 18th century, it was used for shops, and grain storage. It is believed that it was used for Saltpetre manufacturing, in the 18th and 19th century. Now it has been listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is open for tourists.
10. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre London
The Shakespeare Globe, built-in 1997, is a modern-day reconstruction of the Globe Theatre. Built in 1599, the original Globe theatre staged performances of plays written by William Shakespeare. The globe theatre caught fire in 1664, and its reconstruction was not thought of until 1970. The new reconstruction is built on the same site and was made possible by the efforts of American actor and director Sam Wanamaker. The aim was to retain the original timber structure aesthetic with the employment of modern-day facilities. Like the original, the new build has a thrust stage that projects into a large circular courtyard surrounded by three levels of raked seating. Plays are usually staged in the summers, but tours are available all around the year.
11. Boston Symphony Hall, Boston
The Boston Symphony Hall is admired for its lively acoustics and ranks number one acoustically alongside Royal Concertgebouw and Grosser Musikvereinssaal. Designed by the architectural firm Mckim, Mead and White, this masterpiece is in a rectangular ‘shoebox’ shape. The stage walls are sloped inwards to aid the sound. Except for its wooden floors, the Hall is built of brick, steel, and plaster, with modest decoration. Side balconies are very shallow to avoid trapping or muffling sound, and the coffered ceiling and statue-filled niches along three sides help provide excellent acoustics to essentially every seat.
12. Grosser Musikvereinssaal, Vienna
The Musikvereinssaal is neoclassical and ranks number one in the world acoustically alongside Boston Symphony Hall and Royal Concertgebouw. Danish architect Theophil Hansen designed it in 1870 as an imitation of ancient Greek temples. The grosser Musikvereinssaal or ‘The Great Hall’ follows the same shoebox style rectangular plan accompanied with elaborate details of various elements. The simple rectangular plan allows quick sound reflection, coffered ceiling, balconies and caryatids, ensuring optimal dispersion of sound. Hard to believe, the acoustically best opera hall was designed by intuition and not exhaustive research because no acoustic guides were available at that time!
13. Hungarian State Opera House
This neo-Renaissance building is an embodiment of Hungarian Culture. It is the second-largest performing arts centre in Hungary. Open for more than a hundred and thirty years, it still hosts performances and is an important historical landmark of Budapest. The limestone facade of the building is symmetric and features Hungarian artisans’ sculptures and their artsy. The building is topped with a mansard roof decorated with ornate tin air vents. The foyer has Italian marble and a multitude of colours, while the other spaces are dominated by red and golden colour. The horseshoe-shaped auditorium has regular seating on the ground floor and niches for seating in three storeys. The entire space is richly decorated with frescos, heavy ornamentation and intricate details and transverses one to the 19th century.
14. Red Rocks Amphitheatre
With over 200 million years of formation, the Red Rocks are the world’s only naturally formed and acoustically perfect open-air theatre. In the early 20th century, this naturally occurring architectural marvel was discovered first by John Brisben Walker. He then envisioned the amphitheatre’s potential and produced several concerts there. The concert held was a success, and the profits allowed Walker to transform the space into a tourist venue. The venue has a seating capacity of 9,450 people. The main attraction is a 300 ft high sandstone monolith that helps to create a beautiful natural setting and enhance acoustics.
15. Minack theatre
Carved into a granite cliff of Porthcurno, Cornwall, married with a jaw-dropping view of the ocean, there is no open-air theatre like the Minack Theatre. It is hard to believe that it was built by hand and came into existence only 80 years ago. The creator, Rowena Cade, once offered her garden on the cliff to a local performing crew. Owing to the beautiful location, it became an annual routine to have a performance in her garden. And the theatre that started with just a terrace for stage and some rough seating has now transformed into the Minack theatre we see today.