Figaro, Figaro, Figaro

WITH Fremantle council casting around for ideas for the redevelopment of Beaconsfield, one’s come in from left field—or perhaps stage left is more appropriate.

Mt Pleasant resident Richard J Harding, who says he’s a man of “ideas”, reckons the disused quarry on Lefroy Road could be home to an opera house.

“This is because the WA Opera company is based in His Majesty’s Theatre and does not have an opera house of its own,” Mr Harding says.

“WA Opera currently shares His Majesty’s with the West Australian Arts Orchestra and the Western Australian Ballet Company, so operating in its own venue will give WA Opera more flexibility.”

• Richard J Harding say the old Beaconsfield quarry is a great site for an opera house. Photo
by Steve Grant

Mr Harding says it’s WAOC’s 50th anniversary this year, making it a good time for reflection.

His idea came out of a visit to the Eden Project, an environmental project based in an old quarry in Cornwall. Coincidentally, its founder Sir Tim Smit was a composer and producer of opera, as well as rock music.

“I had a look at the Beaconsfield quarry to check that it is big enough to fit an opera house, and thankfully size is not an issue,” says Mr Harding.

“The future WA opera house (which he says could be known as Quarry Opera House) can be further enhanced by having a large surrounding garden, and even a rooftop garden.”

Mr Harding believes the opera house would stand out globally and boost the city’s economy and tourism industry.

WA Opera’s general manager Carolyn Chard says it’s an interesting idea and a welcome opportunity to discuss the company’s future in its 50th anniversary.

“The idea of an opera house being constructed in an unused quarry in Fremantle, which we understand is to be redeveloped by the state government and Fremantle council, is an interesting one and perhaps can be seen as a signal that collectively we value the art form in this country and want to secure its future,” Ms Chard said.

“While the home of opera is His Majesty’s Theatre, the beautiful Edwardian theatre in the city, the concept offers the opportunity to discuss how we present opera and how we reach audiences, how we might collaborate and how we might construct new productions.

“A new venue in an unusual setting needs to be well equipped, well resourced, with excellent acoustics and great comfort to patrons.”


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