Damascus Opera House
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|Damascus Opera House
Dar al-Assad for Culture and Arts (official name)
Damascus Opera House at the Umayyad Square (2010)
|Native name||Arabic: دار الأسد للفنون والثقافة|
|Leased by||Damascus Opera Company|
|Type||Multipurpose performing-arts building|
|Capacity||Opera Theater – 1,331
Drama Theater – 663
Multipurpose Hall – 237
|Opened||7 May 2004|
|damascusopera.com (in Arabic), the website of the Damascus Opera company|
The Damascus Opera House (officially Dar al-Assad for Culture and Arts) (Arabic: دار الأسد للفنون والثقافة) is the national opera house of Syria. Inaugurated on 7 May 2004, it is located in central Damascus, on the Umayyad Square.
Damascus already had an opera house from the 1900s. During the French colonial period Shahbandar's People's Party held their inaugural meeting at the old Damascus Opera House in 1925. Hafez al-Assad planned the opera house early in his rule, but work did not recommence until the 2000s and Assad's son Bashar and his wife, opened Al Assad opera house in 2004.
The new Damascus Opera House
The opera house is a part of a building complex along with Higher Institute for Dramatic Arts, the Higher Institute for Music and the Ballet School, overlooking a multipurpose inner yard. The complex spreads over an area of approximately 350,000 m². It faces the al-Assad National Library and the Syrian Television building.
The building consists of five levels. Each one includes a large foyer used for breaks and reception purposes. It includes three auditoriums, namely the Opera Theater, the Drama Theater and the Multipurpose Hall. They are supplemented by rehearsal and warm-up spaces as well as vidette rooms.
The Opera Theater holds a capacity of 1,331 seats distributed over a ground auditorium, two balconies and twenty boxes. Dimensions of the proscenium arch are 9×10 meters, and total depth of the stage is 34 meters. The orchestra pit can hold 110 musicians.
A middle-sized hall that holds 663 seats. This hall is distinguished by its round stage that sticks out into the theatre, and that is equipped with two movable side platforms. The stage is equipped with ground holes that lead to the backstage area through tunnels.
It consists of a ground hall and two balconies and can hold up to 237 seats. This hall is used for different kinds of activities such as short plays, experimental drama presentations, small music recitals, cinema shows and lectures.
Damascus Opera Company
Aside from visiting foreign artists, the company produced The Marriage of Figaro in 2010. The current (2011) director of the House and Company is Maria Arnaout, producer of Gianni Schicchi, An international Oriental Music Festival and a Syrian version of the musical Oliver! casting orphans after the model of El Sistema's work with street children in Venezuela. So far the opera house has not included in its programmes opera in Arabic or art song in Arabic.
- Fawwāz, Layla Tarazī; al-K̲ālidī, Walīd; Manṣūr, Kamīl (2009). Transformed Landscapes – Essays on Palestine and the Middle East in Honor of Walid Khalidi. Cairo; New York City: American University in Cairo Press. p. 37. ISBN 978-9-774-16247-3."... Party inauguration on 5 June 1925, more than a thousand people crowded into Damascus Opera House to hear their leaders express freely and legally, for the first time since the Syrian Congress of 1920, the will of the Syrian people"
- [dead link] Syria Today. Syria Today.