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Cork Opera House
About Cork Opera House
Cork Opera House has had a glorious history of both culture and architecture dating back to its inception in 1852 when it was first built on Anglesea Street to house the National Exhibition. As it was designed by the much celebrated architect Sir John Benson, the structure was deconstructed brick by brick to be rehoused on Emmet Place or as it was known then, Nelson Place. When first built this beautiful structure was known as the Athenaeum, after which it went through a number of name changes including the Munster Hall, The Great & Royal Opera House Company and, finally became known as Cork City’s beloved Cork Opera House in 1877. The building continued to entertain the masses until the devastation of a fire in December 1955, which saw the building and the people of Cork be brought to their knees through the pain of losing this much loved house.
Following a ten-year fundraising campaign, a modern theatre designed by Scott Tallon Walker was rebuilt on the same site in 1965, due much to the hard work of the people of Cork who dug deep to help rebuild this building. In 1993, a new front of house was designed by Murray Ó Laoire Architects for "a vision of the building which takes the architecture of Cork City into the 21st century". Completed in 2000, the complex then included the main auditorium, two bars, corporate boxes, foyer, café and shop. Through recent years the management team has worked tirelessly to upgrade and consistently improve the building even further including new seating, a new café area, new acoustics, sightlines and of course state of the art equipment along with countless other upgrades, with the needs of the people of Cork as the impetus for all change.
Attached to the main theatre is a flexible studio, the 120-seat Half Moon Theatre, which fosters smaller scale projects. Many up and coming artists including theatre companies and musicians have worked in this space developing and presenting works for the people of Cork. This space acts as a versatile haven for those companies who maybe only starting out but also for those more seasoned artists.
Today Cork Opera House is southern Ireland’s premiere venue for the best concerts, comedy, drama, dance, family fare, and, of course, opera. Located in the heart of Cork City, the Opera House has been a Cork cultural institution for nearly 160 years and will continue to strive to present and produce both indigenous and international top class acts for the people of Cork and further afield. This is a building to be proud of and a building which is proud to be pure Cork.
Cork Opera House seeks to serve its city and surrounding region as a municipal theatre, offering its audiences a world class programme of events across all disciplines in the performing arts.
How big is Cork Opera House?
The Cork Opera House is the only purpose built opera house in the country, it includes:
- 1,000 seat auditorium and an orchestra pit that can hold 70 musicians
- One of the largest stages in Ireland measuring 12 x 10 meters with over 235 lights on the stage and an 60 foot fly tower, which accommodates up to 28 scenes changes in a performance
- The first Martin Line Array with inverted 5.1 surround sound system and first to use digital sound desks in Ireland.
- The Half Moon Theatre, a flexible studio space located to the rear of the main theatre, fosters a more experimental range of interdisciplinary projects, mixing drama with music and comedy
Who Owns Cork Opera House?
Cork Opera House is a non-profit plc with charitable status. Cork City Council is the largest shareholder having acquired the controlling block of shares from the now dissolved Cork Theatre Trust which along with many private shareholders originally rebuilt the Cork Opera House from the ashes of the fire of 1955 which destroyed the original Opera House established on the same site in 1855.
Who Runs Cork Opera House?
It is run by an Executive Director and management team who report to a board of 13 non-executive directors. On average a staff of 32 permanent and 45 temporary are employed at Cork Opera House. Last year Cork Opera House contributed €387k back to the exchequer and paid €166k in royalties and performing rights back to copyrighted artists.
Cork Opera House is the premiere performing arts venue in southern Ireland. But our building is now forty-three-years old, and the time has come to carry out urgent restoration and repair work in order to maintain that position. In September 2008 a €1 restoration levy was included in the price of every ticket.
Funds raised by the levy will be used to continue our capital programme of restoration and essential health and safety work. For more Information on Capital Programme see below.
We hope our patrons will understand and support the levy which will help us to provide a safe and comfortable theatre experience for you, and for generations to come.