The long-anticipated Taichung Metropolitan Opera House is to begin trial operations today and is scheduled to officially open on Sept. 30, with the Taichung City Government yesterday donating the theater to the Ministry of Culture.
“The National Taichung Theater [Metropolitan Opera House] is not only a new Taichung landmark and beautiful soul of the city, [its inauguration] is also a milestone for Taiwan’s performing arts, which has entered a new stage of development,” Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) said.
The opera house will support the development of performing arts groups in central Taiwan, train local theater professionals, promote art education and become a networking platform for domestic and international performing arts groups, Cheng said.
Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said construction took more than 10 years and cost NT$4.3 billion (US$135.76 million), but the result is an award-winning venue that he believes will play an important part in national arts and cultural development.
The eye-catching complex was designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning Japanese architect Toyo Ito and boasts a 2,014-seat grand theater, an 800-seat theater and a 200-seat black-box theater.
Architecturally complex and highly challenging from an engineering perspective, the theater was built without beams or columns, relying instead on 58 curved wall units.
It is believed to be the first theater in the world to employ such techniques and is one of the most difficult to build.
The opera house has been touted as a leg of the “golden triangle” for the performing arts in Taiwan, alongside Taipei’s National Theater and Concert Hall and Kaohsiung’s Wei Wu Ying Center for the Arts, with the latter to be inaugurated in 2018.
National Taichung Theater artistic and executive director Victoria Wang (王文儀) said there is a vibrant traditional performing arts scene in central Taiwan and the opera house will work to bring these local groups to the international stage.
She said the opera house would feature a mix of 70 percent local programs and 30 percent international programs, and would cooperate with Taichung music groups and students to introduce at least one original or adapted opera piece each year.
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