The Bigger the Cushion, or: Why the Winspear Opera House Really Has Those Wide Seats

At 8 p.m. tomorrow, the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House gets its proper christening with performances by mezzo-soprano Denyce Grave, baritone Thomas Hampson, Morphoses choreographer Christopher Wheeldon in a piece commissioned for the AT&T Performing Arts Center's opening week. Given the Winspear's London roots -- it was designed, after all, by Foster + Partners -- the Guardian today weighs in with a what-for that asks whether Dallas is now home to the "opera theatre for the 21st century." Ed Pilkington also asks Spencer de Grey, the project's lead architect, about why the Winspear has 1,100 fewer seats than the Music Hall at Fair Park:

They reduced the number of seats from 3,300 in Dallas's old opera house to 2,200 -- slightly more than Covent Garden but substantially fewer than New York's Metropolitan Opera -- mainly to enhance the dramatic experience, but also partly in recognition that in this age, seats have to be larger. "People want wider seats, as basically they have bigger bottoms," de Grey said. "It's a very compact space. People can't believe it has so many seats in such a small area."
On a related note, will Spinal Tap ever play the Winspear? Should.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky