Sound Designs

Commercial Interior Design gets an exclusive tour around the Royal Opera House Muscat. Report and interview by Devina Divecha and Gavin Davids

An idea spanning decades has finally come to fruition with the establishment and opening of the Royal Opera House Muscat. His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, a well-known music enthusiast, thought about building an opera house in his country as far back as 1984.

“His Majesty is a huge lover of music so this is no surprise to us,” said John Loader, the deputy project director and a chartered architect working directly for the Royal Estates in Muscat.

The Royal Estates is an architectural department within government and is part of the Royal Court Affairs. “We are responsible for designing and delivering all palace work as well as the country’s most prominent civic buildings such as the Grand Mosque, Majlis Oman (Parliament) and the Royal Opera House Muscat,” said Loader.

The Royal Opera House Muscat is located on a sprawling estate of nearly 80,000m2. The architectural character of the building is influenced by the grand style of modern Omani palaces.

The site has a large car park connected by a bridge to the souk. A Maidan (open square) next to the Opera House is an outdoor performance venue, and can be seen from terraced areas of the souk.

Colonnades are built along the west and east sides of the Royal Opera House, with a small ‘black box’ studio theatre for smaller events. Visitors can enter the main building via the Maidan Lobby, which contains the ticket office.

The building houses the auditorium and the various majlis areas, along with the Royal Reception Area, the stage, the moveable concert shell, and a porte-cochère (a covered carriage entrance leading into a courtyard).

The imposing building overlooks gardens, and the Great Lawn, which can be used for performances.

His Majesty preceded this project with many other musically inclined activities that led up to what stands today. “We were looking at building a large concert theatre for His Majesty at the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra campus complex at Bait Al Barakah in 1992, but the idea and intention on His Majesty’s part for a significant theatre most certainly precedes that,” said Loader.

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