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Guangzhou starts opera house
(China Daily)
Updated: 2005-01-19 08:38

The Guangzhou Opera House, one of the biggest cultural projects in this southern city, began construction yesterday.

The opera house, which will cover an area of 46,000 square metres, is expected to go into operation at the end of 2007.

With an estimated investment of 1 billion yuan (US$120 million), the project is expected to become the biggest performing centre in South China and to be one of the three biggest theatres in the nation.

At present, the Beijing-based National Theatre and the Shanghai Theatre are regarded as the two biggest theatres in China.

The Guangzhou opera house will have 1,800 seats and a multifunctional digital hall with an area of 2,500 square metres.

"The opera house will meet the needs of various performances after its completion, including large-scale operas, enabling residents in the city to enjoy fine arts," Lin Shusen, Party secretary of Guangzhou, said yesterday at the foundation ceremony.

Designed by Zaha Hadid, a renowned international architect, the opera house will be in line with international standards, says Lin.

Born in Baghdad in 1950, Zaha Hadid set up her own architecture studio in London and produced a number of renowned design works, including the National Centre of Contemporary Arts in Rome. She won the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004.

Cultural activities

Residents in Guangzhou used to be described as a bit too money-orientated while showing less interest in non-profit and cultural activities compared with people in other major Chinese cities.

However, as living standards have become better, the need for cultural life, especially arts, has also grown.

Hence, the city's planners have set up goals to improve its cultural atmosphere.

Lin says that Guangzhou also plans to rebuild a number of existing theatres in the city starting this year, in an effort to enable residents to more conveniently enjoy arts.

Lin said construction of the new Guangdong Museum, the Guangzhou Children's Palace and the Guangzhou Library would also be completed within the next five years.

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