Friday, June 5, 2009

Top Modern Opera House: Valencia

El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía aka Queen Sofia Palace of the Arts
Valencia, Spain

El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia of Valencia Spain edged out "The Egg" in Beijing as the VO fans "Top Modern Opera House" in last weeks poll. It was followed by Copenhagen Opera House, then Helsinki, Oslo and Toronto to round out the top six.

The Queen Sophia Palace of the Arts, opened on 8 October 2005, is a futuristic temple of music dedicated to Queen Sophia of Spain. It was designed by famed Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, who was born near Valencia.

The project cost € 165 million to build, and is one of the world's biggest structures of its kind: it extends 40,000 m2 over 12 stories and hosts four performance spaces (opera house, symphonic concert hall, ballet house and theatre) with a total audience capacity of 4,000. It rises 75m high, extends 163m in length and is 87m wide. The top section is 237m long. The building is surrounded by 40,000m2 of gardens, 11,000m2 of pools and footpaths.

Scenic lifts and sweeping stairways along the steel cladding on each side of the building give access to the terraces located at varying levels, and to the gardens and footpaths. The main material used in the construction was white concrete which covers most of the structural supports. The mosaic chosen to cover the steel shells was also an unusual choice. "To tie the palace even more to the city of Valencia", explained Calatrava, "I opted for the traditional ceramic used over the centuries here, including the shard variety that we call trencadis".

The building is part of an impressive Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias de Valencia, which is home to L´Hemisfèric, the Prince Felipe Science Museum and L´Umbracle, and L'Oceanogràfic.

The programming the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía {PHOTOS} includes celebration of the Operalia Event, under the management of Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo. This is one of the most prestigious international competitions for opera singers starting out on their career. It produces a full season of opera under the baton of Music Director Lorin Maazel and under the direction of Intendent and Regia, Helga Schmidt.

~ Ling Chan

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