National Center for the Performing Arts
Designed by French architect Paul Andrew, The National Centre for the Performing Arts presents and oval exterior, hence got a nickname “Egg”. It is located in Chang’an Avenue West, with Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City to its east. The architect Paul Andrew cleverly designed this modern architecture to complement the red walls of ancient buildings.
The National Centre for the Performing Arts covers an area of about 118,900 sq meters with an artificial lake and green spaces around. It contains three performance venues - the Opera House, the Concert Hall and the theatre. A variety of performances are frequently staged here. It’s possible to catch a variety when you are there. Another option is to get booked on to a tour to appreciate the grand architecture and art exhibitions on show.
The exterior of The National Centre for the Performing Arts is shaped like an egg. It is a steel oval structure of over 18,000 titanium plates and 1,000 sheets of ultra white glass, creating a visual effect of curtains being drawn apart slowly before your eyes. The steel oval structure is the largest dome in the world at present.
Surrounding the building is an amazing man-made lake. Due to technologies, it will not ice over in the winter and algae won’t grow in it during the summer months. The lake and the reflection of the National Centre for the Performing Arts adds wonder to the scene, especially on beautiful summer nights.
It was designed to be a cultural Island in the middle of a lake. All entrances are built under water. When you walk in, water is above your head. If you head for the north entrance, you will descend the grand staircase and above you, the light will shimmer through the lake water.
Around the lake is 39,000 sq meters of greenery. Arrive early to explore and feel tranquillity in a very modern metropolis.
The foyer is huge and covered in stone from 10 different regions of China. The interior walls are lined with thousands of panels of Brazilian rosewood. The huge glass curtain from ceiling to floor allows the cities lights to penetrate at night. As you’d probably expect, there are escalators taking visitors to various parts of the centre.
Three Performance Venues
The Opera House
Without doubt, The Opera House is the most magnificent of the three buildings with its golden colour. It has 2091 seats plus standing room and elaborate operas, dance, drama and ballet are staged here. If you’re really lucky, you’ll catch a performance of Beijing Opera. Allow the Chinese enthusiasts' reactions to guide you through the performance as the stories are similar to tales by Shakespeare. The use of lights and sound system encourage the audience to submerge themselves into the performance they are viewing. The stage made of timber is widely accepted as the largest in China.
Designed in traditional Chinese style, the Theatre is where traditional Chinese opera, plays and dances are performed. The Zhejiang silk on the walls are flame proof and influenced heavily with Chinese taste. The theatre has 957 seats which are close to the stage to please the audience during traditional performance.
Air conditioning is positioned under seats that you will hardly notice. Cool air is expelled, wind is not and noise elimination equipment has been installed, so you won’t be disturbed when someone leaves the theatre to head for the bathroom, an absolute stroke of genius.
The Concert Hall
The Concert Hall is located to the east of the Opera House and is where large symphonies and traditional Chinese music are performed. It is coloured silver and white to give the hall a tranquil feel. The auditorium is positioned well so that which ever of the 1859 seats you should get a good view. Take a look at the ceiling which rolls like waves with the music.
The most valuable piece of equipment is the largest pipe organ in Asia, with an incredible 6,500 pipe sounds.
Address: Chang’an Avenue West
Transport: Take subway Line 1 to Tiananmen Square, take exit C straight to the site
Opening Times: Tuesday to Sunday 9:00 to 17:00
Admissions: 30 RMB in the day and 40 RMB for the Opera Festival