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Bahrain’s National Theatre set for impressive start

Spanish tenor Domingo, Russia’s Bloshoi Ballet in rare performances

  • By Habib Toumi Bureau chief
  • Published: 12:11 November 14, 2012
  • Gulf News

Manama: Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa opened one of the largest theatres in the Middle East this week.

The new 1,001-seat Bahrain National Amphitheatre was built at a cost of $50 million (Dh183.60 million) with an Arabian Nights theme and will stage a busy season of performances that include Russia’s Bolshoi Theatre and Spanish tenor Placido Domingo.

Tenor Placido Domingo is scheduled to give a waterfront concert in Manama later this month. The performance by the legend who has reportedly sung 140 roles in Italian, French, German, English, Spanish and Russian will be the first cultural event to be hosted by the National Theatre days after it was inaugurated by King Hamad. The second performance in December at the National Theatre will be an evening of classical ballet by the legendary Russian Bolshoi Ballet Company.

During the inauguration ceremony this week, King Hamad “expressed pride in the theatre’s role in contributing to Bahraini society, highlighted numerous national activities on social, cultural and educational issues and praised Bahraini creative artists and their contribution to the Kingdom’s progress in the arts and culture”, a statement from the Information Affairs Authority (IAA) said.

Shaikha Mai Bint Mohammad Al Khalifa, the culture minister, said that the theatre was “a project for intellectual and artistic works”, and that “it will attract theatrical innovators to exchange cultural expertise and views”.

Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal and Arab ministers of culture were present at the opening ceremony that included a presentation on the architectural design of the theatre inspired from the Arabian Tale of One Thousand and One Nights.

The $50 million National Theatre has an area of 11,869 square metres and has the capacity to seat 1,001 guests, making it the third largest theatre in the Middle East region.

It was designed by the French Architecture Studio, which won this year’s gold medal in the International Academy of Architecture’s world competition.

The Architecture Studio also designed the Arab World Institute in Paris, the Muscat Cultural Centre in Oman, the City of Science and Techniques in Chongqing,China and the Onassis Foundation in Athens, Greece.

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