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A day after the Royal Opera House opened its doors to host the Jio MAMI film festival, the baroque building nestled in the heart of south Mumbai was lit up once again with its wall sporting shades of green, blue and red. Adding to the anticipation at the opening was Mumbai-born British soprano Patricia Rozario, whose voice floated effortlessly through the new accoustics of the heritage structure as she sang ‘My Wedding’ and the audience demanded an encore.
This was the first event in 23 years held for a select few in the city at the 574-seater auditorium running in three tiers at the Royal Opera House in Girgaum.
In a 30-minute programme with her husband and pianist Mark Troop, Rozario belted out a collection of nine songs. Dressed in a grand turquoise gown to match up to the grandeur of the event, Rozario said, “I wish my parents were alive. They would have been really excited to hear me sing in this building.”
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With red carpeted walls and white ceiling, the restoration of Opera House involved experts in acoustics, lighting, and sound to allow the soprano’s voice to travel till the last row.
The century-old structure was bought by Maharaja of Gondal in 1952. His son Maharaja Joytendrasinhji Jadeja and Maharani Kumud Kumari Jadeja commissioned its restoration in 2010. “I hope people will come here more often to see plays now,” Jadeja said.
According to architectural conservationist Abha Narain Lambah, the final polishing touches of the entire structure will be done in another month.
“I want everyone to walk around and explore the building. The restoration has required a lot of efforts,” she told the audience.
And many who had come to the heritage structure were seen going through its nooks and corners to see the restoration work of gold-laced mirrors. To ensure live performances, acoustic treatment of the wall surfaces and ceilings was carried out. Experts from as far as Britain were called in to make the area a perfect place for live opera events.
After restoration, the building converts into a dome from inside with paintings of artists and regal chandeliers, stained glass windows, and box-like balconies. On Saturday, another private opera is scheduled following which the royal building will be open to public.
According to director Ashish Doshi, the Opera House is the only current standing Opera House in India. “There was an entire panel of consultants. For Bapu as we fondly refer Maharaja saheb, Mumbai owes a thank you for bringing opera to its former glory,” Doshi said.