Wednesday, 14 March 2018

The Royal Academy of Music's new theatre takes flight

The new theatre at the Royal Academy of Music (photo Adam Scott)
The new theatre at the Royal Academy of Music (photo Adam Scott)
With space in London at a premium, academic institutions have to be imaginative when it comes to the use of space and fitting theatres into existing 19th century conservatoires is a particular challenge. The Royal Academy of Music has just opened its new theatrical facilities at its Marylebone Road home following two years of re-building when the opera department became peripatetic.

The new recital room at the Royal Academy of Music (photo Adam Scott)
The new recital room at the Royal
Academy of Music (photo Adam Scott)
The re-designed and re-built facilities include the 309-seat Susie Sainsbury Theatre and the new 100-seat rooftop Recital Hall, as well as 14 refurbished practice and dressing rooms, five new percussion studios, a large refurbished jazz room and a new control suite for the Academy’s audio-visual recordings department. The new theatre is built on the site of the Sir Jack Lyons Theatre which stood from 1976 to 2015. Designed by RIBA Award-winning Ian Ritchie Architects, the project has transformed the original theatre, including re-shaping the auditorium, adding a new balcony, increasing capacity by 40%, and improving sightlines dramatically. Plus a new fly tower and side wings in an adaptable theatre suitable for everything from opera to music theatre and beyond.

I have to confess that I found Royal Academy Opera's touring years rather fun, we caught Rimsky Korsakov's May Night at Ambika P3 [see my review] and Handel's Alcina at the Round Chapel in Hackney [see my review], but I can well understand the delight of staff and students to be back in a well-equipped permanent home.

Jonathan Dove's Flight opened the new theatre this week on 12 March 2018.

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