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Tivoli Theatre in Aberdeen to stage first opera in 50 years

Renovation work has taken place on the auditorium, stalls, stage, dressing rooms and dress circle. Photo: Ken Taylor Renovation work has taken place on the auditorium, stalls, stage, dressing rooms and dress circle. Photo: Ken Taylor
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Aberdeen’s Tivoli Theatre is to reopen for opera for the first time in more than 50 years, as its £1.5million renovation nears completion.

The building was on the Theatre Trust’s Theatre Buildings At Risk register when it was bought in 2009 by a small private consortium headed by Brian Hendry.

The consortium has since been renovating the venue, which went dark in 1998, with work carried out to the auditorium, stalls, stage, dressing rooms and dress circle.

Hendry opened the venue for pantomimes in 2013, with just 200 seats in the stalls, increasing this to 400 in 2014. When it is fully operational for this year’s pantomime, capacity will be at 530, including 100 in the upper circle, which is being converted into luxury boxes.

The venue has been staging around one show a month, but Hendry said that this was gradually increasing with professional and amateur companies using the space.

Its first operatic performance in more than 50 years will be held on July 31 when Chamber Opera Chicago perform Jane Austen’s Persuasion at the theatre.

Hendry told The Stage that when he took over, the theatre was on the verge of being demolished.

“The auditorium was starting to leak, fall into disrepair and grow mould. And it had been ransacked over the years, so that when I took over all the memorabilia had gone,” he said.

“The hardest thing has been trying to convince the governing bodies, as they thought it couldn’t be done. So we have had no assistance from them. It has all been done by private investment, by Aberdeen companies and individual sponsors.”

COC is rehearsing in the building for a week, with one performance, before taking its production of Persuasion to the Edinburgh Fringe.

In addition, the ground floor theatre bar, once under water, has been opened as a museum that will house the Tivoli’s growing collection of memorabilia.

Originally opening as Her Majesty’s Opera House, the Tivoli became a bingo hall in 1966, before closing in 1998.

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