The iconic Grand Opera House in Belfast was designed by the leading Victorian theatre architect Frank Matcham and opened on 23 December 1895. Many of the world’s leading actors, singers, dancers and entertainers have appeared on its stage, including Charlie Chaplin, Vera Lynn, Luciano Pavarotti and Laurel and Hardy.
This is the first time the historic building has undergone major restoration work in 40 years. The National Lottery Heritage Fund contributed over £5million to the redevelopment.
Funding has been used to painstakingly restore and conserve the auditorium’s paintings and decorative and ornate plasterwork, as well as install new seating, carpets, curtains and drapes.
The foyer and public spaces have been totally redesigned, with a new bar installed in the restored 1980 glass extension, as well as beautifully refurbished stalls and circle bars.
The theatre’s technical infrastructure – including lighting and electronic systems – has been upgraded to help enhance performances, whilst also protecting the building’s unique heritage.
Facilities for those customers with access needs have also been greatly enhanced throughout.
Delving into history
The Grand Opera House have also installed a permanent heritage exhibition installed telling the fascinating story of the theatre’s 125-year history.
Paul Mullan, Director for Northern Ireland at The Heritage Fund said: “This is a significant project which will help to protect the heritage of the theatre, as well as provide opportunities for people to explore its history for many years to come.”
The Grand Opera House will open with public tours of the theatre in July 2021, followed by the return of live performances in Autumn.