National theater ready for showtime

By Chen Jie (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-09-18 07:43

China National Grand Theater. Picture taken on September 17, 2007. [Xinhua] 

Sometimes, a journey is as interesting as the destination, and that's what French architect Paul Andreu has designed for the China National Grand Theatre: An artistic ambience on the way to a show.

Walk across the greenery at the west of Tian'anmen Square, step down 7 meters and enter an 80-m-long underground gallery with a bright glass roof where water ripples overhead.

At the end of the gallery is a huge lobby, probably the largest in a theatre anywhere in the world. From the window, you can see the clouds in the sky and the traffic on Chang'an Avenue to the north.

It leads to the magnificent Opera House with 2,398 seats. The concert hall which can seat 2,019 is on the east and the theater with a capacity of 1,035 is on the west.

"Though it has been the subject of much controversy since 2001 when construction of the 'Egg Shell' started, nobody can resist the attraction of the bubble-shaped theater which is covered by glass and titanium and surrounded by the greenery and water," said Wang Zhengming, deputy head of the National Grand Theatre.

"And once inside the 'Egg Shell,' you will be more impressed by the innovative design and decor. It is a new landmark, a cultural symbol of Beijing."

The first to witness a performance at the Opera House next week will be deputies to the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, designers and constructors of the theater and Beijing Olympic Games venues.

To test the equipment, seven shows including Swan Lake by the National Ballet of China, Dream of Grand Dunhuang by Lanzhou Song and Dance Company, and Tea House by Beijing People's Art Theatre will be staged from September 25 to October 13,

The concert hall and theater will formally open by the year-end.

Some 183 shows from China, the United States, Russia, France, Italy and other countries will be staged during the premiere season till the end of March, said Deng Yijiang, press officer of the theatre.

A concert hall inside the China National Grand Theater. [Xinhua]


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