Saturday 8th October 2005 was a day that marked Valencian history forever, as the Calatrava-designed sparkly new opera house was officially opened by Her Majesty the Reina Sofía. An exclusive guest-only audience of some 1700 were present on this special evening when the opera house opened its doors for the first time. Said to be the largest after the Sydney Opera House, Valencia can now house a full opera and an audience of up to 4000 in four separate halls - the Main Hall, Master Room, Chamber Theatre and Amphitheatre. This 75m high feat of modern architecture, described by all tonight as '¡precioso!', '¡impresionante!', was designed by Valencian Santiago Calatrava, and is the fourth and final part of his spectacular complex, La Ciudad de Las Artes y Las Ciencias, to be unveiled. Tonight, standing under this magnificent structure so beautifully lit, reflected in the surrounding pools of water that create those double images Calatrava is so good at, I was completely moved by this event. As we watched the invited audience brace the long steps up the red carpet, the more important dignitary arrive through the security gates in front. Beautifully dressed as always, the Valencians looked very content, and rightly so!, to be witnessing this fantastic occasion.
Many celebs were present, from actress Rosana Pastor, matador Enrique Ponce, the actress Nuria Espert, writer Maria Vagos Llosa, the journalist Luis del Olmo, Spanish fashion designer Alex Vidal, and of course HM the Queen herself, and most stopped to chat amiably to the cameras.
Press from all over the world were represented, from the Financial Times to the NY Times to Le Figaro and TVE, and we were all able to experience the fantastic concert from the comfort of the press room. Valencian musicians were brought in from all over the globe to play at this first concert, in the third biggest orchestra pit in the world after Le Bastille and El Teatro Real de Madrid.
Coming out of the opera house at nightfall, the sheer beauty of this architectural masterpiece was even more apparent, as lasers, coloured lights and spots lit up the shell-like concrete wings that embrace the layers of structures housing the many performing arts facilities and glisten and sparkle a thousand colours as each piece of glazed white mosaic reflects the light show. The bridge separating the Opera House from the Hemisferic and Science Museum was crowded with spectators, desperate to get a glimpse of the guests leaving, and just to gape at the building itself.
The attention to detail was breathtaking, from the Grand Piano seen on the second floor to the trees, art and sculptural decoration around the site, to the beautiful uniforms of the staff and the books handed out about the Opera House itself, nothing went overlooked.
The final piece of the City of Arts and Sciences puzzle has been placed, in an effort by the government to unite city and sea, and bring up the areas around the site that have got run down in the past. This is the perfect way to shine the spotlight on this amazing city, and will make the world finally wake up to its charms. The question is, is Valencia ready for all the attention?
WORDS AND PICTURES
MORE CULTURE ARCHIVES
Festival Veo 2006
Andie McDowell in VLC
& SOME SPORT ARCHIVES