Bombay was in its glory days in the 1900's, and its peak of social, artistic and cultural dynamism. An integral part of this movement was the Royal Opera House Mumbai, first inaugurated by King George V in 1911. It still holds relevance and reverence in the cultural fabric of contemporary Mumbai and is in fact India's only surviving opera house till date.
From magic shows to film screening to fashion shows it played hosts to several great artists over the decade. Now almost 105 years later the building has been magnificently brought bsck to life and will reopen its doors on 20th October 2016.
The Maharaja of Gondal Shri Vikramsinhji bought the Opera House in 1952. His son Shri Jyotendrasinhji commissioned its restoration in 2010, which is now nearing completion and revving up for its momentous debut.
One of the last standing Baroque building in Mumbai today, the Royal Opera House Mumbai, with its long standing association with art, literature, theatre and music and has hosted Operas and live performance of artists like Bal Gandharva, Prithviraj Kapoor, Dinanath Mangeshkar and Lata Mangeshkar.
The Royal Opera House, Mumbai is widely touted as the city's Cultural Crown Jewel and India's only surviving Opera House. The original idea for the space was conceived of in 1908 by Maurice Bandmann, a famous entertainer from Calcutta, and Jehangir Framji Karaka, who headed a coal brokers' firm.
This Baroque edifice was inaugurated in 1911 by King George V, and eventually completed in 1916. The design incorporated a blend of European and Indian detailing. Twenty-six rows of boxes behind the stalls were put up for the best view of the stage. The ceiling was constructed to enable even those in the gallery to hear every word uttered by the performers.
By 1917, the Opera House, like many other theatres, became in part a cinema. In 1925 it ceased to be a dramatic theatre when British Pathe rented it for screening their films. Among leading musicians and actors who performed at the theatre were Bal Gandharva, Krishna Master, Bapu Pendharkar, Master Dinanath, Jyotsna Bhole, Londhe, Patwardhan buwa, and Prithviraj Kapoor.
In 1935 Ideal Pictures Ltd. acquired the theatre and completely renovated it in the following year, including new flooring, tiles, doors, window frames and coloured cements. By 1980, video films adversely impacted the popularity of cinema and a number of theatres were closed by the 1990s.
The Maharaja of Gondal, Shri Vikram sinhji, bought the Opera House in 1952. His son, Shri Jyotendrasinhji, commissioned its restoration in 2010 under the leadership of conservation architect, Abha Narain Lambah. The Royal Opera House Mumbai was included on the 2012 World Monuments Watch to raise awareness about its history and significance, and support preservation efforts.