Holiday China Tour  
Attractions >> Beijing >> Beijing Attractions

National Grand Theater

National Grand Theatre is colloquially described as The Egg, is an opera house in Beijing, China. Its location immediately to the west of Tiananmen Square and the Great Hall of the People, and near the Forbidden City, combined with the theatre's futuristic design, created considerable controversy. The Centre, an ellipsoid dome of titanium and glass surrounded by an artificial lake, seats 6,500 people in three halls and is 200,000 m² in size. It was designed by French architect Paul Andreu. Construction started in December 2001 and the inaugural concert was held in December 2007.

The exterior of the theater is a titanium accented glass dome that is completely surrounded by a man-made lake. It is said to look like an egg floating on water. It was designed as an iconic feature, something that would be immediately recognizable, like the Sydney Opera House.

The dome measures 212 meters in east-west direction, 144 meters in north-south direction, and is 46 meters high. The main entrance is at the north side. Guests arrive in the building after walking through a hallway that goes underneath the lake. The titanium shell is broken by a glass curtain in north-south direction that gradually widens from top to bottom.

"According to French architect Paul Andrew, after the construction is completed, the Grand Theater will look like a huge green park with an oval and silver grand theater encircled by green water. The shell, made of titanium metal and glass together with day and night lights will add radiance and beauty to each other, and have fast-changing colors. The surroundings of the Grand Theater are semi-transparent, golden netted glass walls. People can see the sky inside the building through its dome. Some people describe the complete Grand Theater as "a crystal drop of water", other people call it a "big egg shell" or "boiled egg".

The Grand Theater project was approved by the State Council in April, 1998 and formerly put into construction on December 13, 2001. It is expected to be completed before October 1, 2005 and to present its first performance during the latter half of 2005.

It will be China's top arts performance center and a first class art palace.

Covering a total area of 118,900 square meters, the Grand Theater has a total floor space of 149,500 square meters. It is equipped with accessory facilities including halls for opera, music, drama, art exhibitions, as well as an art exchange center, and audio and video store. Opera, dancing and ballet will be mainly presented in the opera hall, which can accommodate an audience of 2,416. The Music Hall, which can accommodate 2,017, will mainly present large orchestral work and folk music. Drama and local opera including Peking opera will be staged in the drama hall.

The dust of controversy that surrounded the construction of the 'Egg Shell,' beside the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square, has settled with the curtain rising on its First International Season which runs until April 6, 2008. The egged-shaped National Center for the Performing Arts, widely known as the National Grand Theater, has captured the attention of people at home and abroad for its huge development costs and iconic profile.

According to the vice-president of the Center, the Egg Shell is not just for the wealthy. The Egg Shell guarantees affordable arts for all.

This can help explain why a Chinese audience, labeled as having had limited experience in musical concerts and not tasted artistic ambience, was rushing for tickets to the New Year Concerts held on December 31 and January 1.

Average ticket prices are lower than that of a regular show in Beijing. The cheapest seats cost 30 yuan ($4).

"Our goal is not to make money, but rather to attract a much wider audience," explained the Center's vice-president. So far, 20,000 tickets have been sold for the opening season, which is expected to attract 300,000 people.

The attraction of affordable tickets, nevertheless, is not the only thing luring people to the Egg Shell. The theater in itself, an egg-shaped structure covered by glass and titanium and surrounded by greenery and water, is not only a national landmark; but also has a strong appeal to its audience.

In addition to music, the center will host ballet and theater performances during the opening season, reflecting the artistic vision of a theater.

Even before the completion of the Egg Shell, many performers and companies from around the world had shown a keen interest in performing there. For instance, renowned Japanese conductor Seiji Ozawa led China's National Symphony Orchestra in two New Year Concerts on December 31 and January 1. Ozawa had been involved in all aspects of the production: from programming to inviting soloists and training the chorus.

Soprano Kiri Te Kanawa and Tenor Jose Carreras will also headline the opening season. Chinese artists scheduled to perform include many popular figures in various performance circles.

Swan Lake, performed by the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia (where Tchaikovsky's famous work made its debut in 1895), and led by the prima ballerina, left the audience deeply intoxicated and reluctant to leave even after the curtain had fallen.

The National Grand Theater bears more than architectural charm: it is infused with artistic aestheticism. It is generally known that a good theater requires management; a good artistic atmosphere needs cultivation; and a good audience needs training. Only when the three work in concert can a high-quality performance succeed. The critics commented that a sound audience base will help breed the fine arts.

Online China Tour Operator

China tour operator
Service available 24X7

Popular China Theme Tours

Classic China Tours
Leisure China Tours
China Photography Tour
China Ancient Town Tours
China Train Tours
China Silk Road Tours
China Hiking Tours
China Student Tours
Seasonal China Tours