It would have been tough to miss all the coverage over the weekend of the fabulous new Wexford Opera House opening! First there was Pat Kenny & the Late Late crew broadcasting live from the new venue on Friday, then a feature by Irish Times architecture critic Frank McDonald:
The new opera house, with 7,235sq m of floor space, is three times larger than the old theatre, but although its flytower rises to the equivalent of eight storeys, it is barely visible above the ridge-line of High Street. Thus, the “surprise and delight of discovery”, as McGahon puts it, is still there.
The smart-looking foyer leads up to a much larger atrium that links the three levels of the auditorium. Box-balustered staircases in dark Canadian walnut are offset against white walls, creating a great space for people-watching – a stage set for the flâneur before and after performances.
THE NEW THREE-TIERED auditorium is a revelation. With its walls, ceiling, floors and bow-shaped balconies entirely clad in dark walnut (from sustainably managed forests), it almost seems to be hewn out of a huge block of timber. It has a cave-like quality, which is slightly off-putting until you get used to it.
Keith Williams likens this extraordinary interior to a stringed instrument.
“We echoed the sensuous curves of a cello to make this room,” he says. “Even the curved steel lighting bridges are analogous to the technical bits of the cello.
The new space looks set to be a triumph for the architects and the OPW involved on the project, and will set off the Wexford Opera festival in style when it launches on 16 October with the opeara ‘Snehurochka, The Snow Maiden‘ (already fully sold out!)