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Esplanade - Theatres On The Bay

Esplanade - Theatres On The Bay (20)

Standing before you is one of Singapore’s most iconic buildings: The Esplanade Opera Theatre. Opened in 2002 at a cost of 600 million Singapore dollars, this monumental work inspired very different reactions. While some applaud it as a true city landmark, others criticize it for its high cost and kitsch design. One thing is sure:   it is a building that never goes unnoticed. 

Often compared with the popular Sydney Opera House, the Esplanade Opera Theatre now has an excellent international reputation.

This is because the Esplanade is pure art, both in its content and in its look. The building itself is a work of art, with six acres of controversial architecture spread out over the Marina Bay.  It houses a 1,600 seat concert hall, a 2,000 seat theatre, several studios, an outdoor theatre, a shopping centre and the first arts library in Singapore.  Crowning the work, two huge domes mesmerize visitors with their more than 7,000 aluminium panels. Some of the panels were placed in different positions so as to ensure maximum natural light during the day.  At night, the dome shines from its interior light, a spectacle worth seeing.   

Of course it is also worthwhile to see some of the thousands of both national and international performances.  These range from musical concerts, to dance to theatre.  You can check the schedule on its official website where you can also purchase your tickets.

One of the many nicknames given to this theatre is Durian.  This it because the peculiar shape of the domes reminds Singaporeans of this famous, local, bad-smelling fruit.  The building has also been compared to giant insect eyes, colanders, golf balls, sea urchins, huge microphones and even fencing masks.

Although the construction of the Esplanade was controversial, it also had its positive side. Its construction is tied to the government revitalization project of the areas around the Singapore River, which started in the late 80s. It was an ambitious project which aimed to restore riverside areas to expand the population’s leisure spaces and foster economic development. The results were very positive, as the presence of theatres brought with it hotels, restaurants, bars, shops and convention centres.

If you take a walk along the promenade, you can see it with your own eyes. Moreover, you can feast on one of the most spectacular views of Marina Bay and one of the best places for a great photo of the city skyline. If you visit at night, you'll discover one of the most beautiful and lively areas in Singapore.

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