Florence has a new opera.

Who says Italian opera is in the doldrums? Contrary to all the recent budget bad news from the country that invented the form, the dramatic new 150 million Euro ($200 million) opera house in Florence projects another view.

The house was far enough along for a celebratory opening concert December 21st with Zubin Mehta conducting. Mehta, the music director of Florence’s opera theater, exclaimed “How the new theater is at the top of the glorious history of the Maggio Musicale and Florence; It is both my wish and my engagement.”

The new Teatro dell’Opera di Firenze, designed by the firm of architects ABDR, has a 1800-seat opera house. A smaller hall, seating 1100, will be mainly for concerts and recitals. Also part of the complex is an 2000 seat open air facility. The Italian government provided half of the funds with the city and regional governments both equally responsible for the other half.

The opera’s historic home, the Teatro Comunale, will continue to host the current season while finishing touches are added to the new building’s back stage and other work areas. The official opening of the season in the new house will be on November 24 with Mehta conducting a performance of Puccini’s “Turandot.” On the schedule too is a Ring Cycle, originally seen in Valencia, by Carus Padrissa and La Fura dels Baus — something not possible to stage in the old house.

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