Dallas' Winspear Opera House: Something to sing about
Opened in 2009, the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House enhances the downtown Dallas Arts District with a distinctive oval rich blood red drum inside a glass and aluminum rectangular box topped with an aluminum canopy.
It features a series of shutters surrounded by Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts to the east, Woodall Rogers Freeway to the north, the Morton Myerson Symphony Center to the west and fronted by a reflecting pool and Elaine D. and Charles A. Sammons Park. The red drum is an homage to the dramatic red interior upholstery of the world’s greatest opera houses and as a hint of the drama that will be found inside.
The Winspear Opera House is home to The Dallas Opera, Texas Ballet Theater, touring Broadway productions and numerous other performances.
The Opera House was designed by London architect Spencer de Grey of the Pritzker Prize-winning Foster + Partners. The firm designed the opera house in the classic horseshoe reminiscent of the opera venues in Munich, London’s Covent Garden and St. Petersburg, among others. De Grey gives a nod to the modern by bringing the outdoors inside though the 60 foot high, 43,000 square foot glass façade with vertical sliding glass doors that allow the building to be fully opened exposing the lobby level café and restaurant. He explained that he wanted the opera house to be inviting, not imposing to the uninitiated opera-goer.
Walking from the 850-vehicle parking lot below, take the glass enclosed elevator or the glass enclosed escalator to the park and enter the Opera House through glass doors.
Once inside the theater, be careful of the beautiful dark-stained wooden floors, one could slip if wearing high heels. You’ll sink into the taupe chenille seats. The theater has 2,300 of them – a thousand less than the Opera’s old home, Dallas’ Music Hall at Fair Park.
De Grey explained that he designed the bigger seats by saying “people want wider seats as basically they have bigger bottoms.” He wanted to enhance the audience’s dramatic experience by stacking the balconies on top of each other rather than angling the tiers, bringing the audience closer to the stage.
Even before the performance begins, the dramatic curtain promises a taste of the excitement to come. The curtain was designed with a nod toward Dallas’ Latin heritage by Argentinian map and architectural artist Guillermo Kuitca. Kuitca’s curtain is a red and beige abstract rendering of the Winspear’s seating plan reminiscent of a rider on his horse on a chocolate brown background.
HelloDallas tip: Free tours are available. E-mail Kelley McCracken, Patron Services Manager here to set one up at least a week in advance.
Posted on April 2, 2010 by Constance Hannon