Original features

January 22, 2009

The Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House was built in 1878 as polite society's answer to the kind of brash popular entertainment on offer in the music halls of the day. It was shut down in 2005 but, after a £31.2 million renovation project, reopened in October 2006 as a permanent home for Opera North.

Last week witnessed another phase of the redevelopment when the Howard Assembly Room - a long-forgotten section of the theatre where meetings, bazaars and concerts were held - became accessible to the public once again.

The room will also be used extensively by the University of Leeds as part of a partnership with Opera North.

The internal shell of this part of the complex has been taken down to reveal the full extent of the original barrel-vaulted ceiling, which has been cleaned and restored, along with the Gothic motifs and arched windows.

A new oak floor and features to improve the acoustics have been incorporated to address today's performance requirements.

Leeds students and academics can now use the performance space and rehearsal rooms for educational purposes, including the opportunity to observe and participate in the opera production process, to research artistic practice and even to present collaborative work with Opera North.

Suggestions for this regular architectural series are welcome: matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

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