India might not sound like the most obvious market for western classical opera but we at Opera Co-Pro were surprised to find out that in Mumbai there is an opera house that dates from the British Raj and was refurbished only last year! The Royal Opera House Mumbai re-opened its doors in October 2016 after being shut for over twenty years. It was inaugurated in 1911 by King George V. Architecturally it is based on the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden and the similarities are clear to see on its facade. It is currently in the hands of the royal family of Gondal, one of the wealthiest royal families in India. The word ‘Royal’ in its name is still pertinent and not simply a leftover from colonial times.
During the early period of its current ownership it spent several decades as a cinema and then fell into disrepair with even trees growing out of the façade. In 2010 restoration began and brought the opera house up to modern standards. The 574 seat theatre has now been open for just over a year. To celebrate its re-opening, Mumbai-born British soprano Patricia Rozario sang to a full house. The Royal Opera House Mumbai is the venue for anyone wishing to stage western opera in India and would likely benefit from co-production partners to assist with this.
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