In 2001, Sultan Qaboos set up the project, initially called ‘House of Musical Arts’; subsequently, the name ‘Royal Opera House Muscat ‘ was used, and design started in 2003.
The opera house was opened on October 12, 2011 by Sultan Qaboos, with a production of the opera Turandot, conducted by Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo.
The Royal Opera House was designed by Wimberly, Allison, Tong & Goo and built by Carillion who also constructed the extensive rebuild of London’s Royal Opera House.
The interior and other performance requirements were by ‘Theatre Design’. Muscat’s opera house has a variable seat plan from 1,100 to 850 seat at the push of a button.
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The stage can extend forward on tracks eliminating the front 7 rows of seating.
The proscenium arch can elevate as can the orchestra pit, the front rows of seats descend below the floor—automatically. The angle of the walling can be adjusted to accommodate both seating and performance requirements.
The stunning venue is an elegant mix of traditional Arabic and contemporary design and was the first opera house on the Arab peninsula. With the 200,000 square foot facility’s performance flexibility, it has opened the region to a new and enriching world of the performing arts.
Royal Opera House Muscat is the leading arts and culture organization in the Sultanate of Oman. On opening, it became a ground-breaking institution in the Arabian Peninsula where live western musical performances are prohibited in some states and a classical opera house was unthought-of of in most.
The intention is to use music, drama and dance to broaden the cultural life in Oman.
The work of Royal Opera House Muscat showcases rich and diverse artistic creations from Oman, the region and the world, providing a space for culture and socioeconomic work.
The opera house has had performances by Plácido Domingo, Andrea Bocelli, London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Mariinsky Ballet.
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Arab artists performing include Majida El Roumi and Shereen. As this is a prestigious, royal, building a formal dress style is expected for performances.
Adjacent to the Royal Opera House is a small shopping mall which is focused on luxury products.
Supporting the entire complex, in some respects, are a number of restaurants including Muscat’s most prestigious Al Angham.