Restored Royal Opera House in Mumbai wins Unesco award

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101-year-old building was filled with music again last month after more than two decades of silence

Mumbai's Royal Opera House has bagged a Unesco Asia-Pacific Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation after a six-year restoration project that has returned the building to its original baroque splendour.

It opened to audiences on 21 October with a performance by Mumbai-born British soprano Patricia Rozario, more than two decades after it last closed its doors.

India's only surviving opera house, the building was originally funded by businessman and philanthropist Jehangir Framji Karaka and Calcutta-based American entertainer Maurice Bandmann. The build was inaugurated by King George V in 1911 and the venue eventually opened on 1916. Its ornate interiors and facade drew on both European and Indian aesthetic traditions.

Over the years it hosted opera, as well as other performances by leading musicians and actors, including the renowned singer Lata Mangeshkar, who gave her first performance at the venue. In the 1930s, it was used as a cinema hall, but  eventually became unviable as a business and shut down in the 90s.

Using historic photos and documents, conservation architect Abha Narain Lambah has restored the building to its original design, while introducing state of the art acoustics and facilities.

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