“Purpose-built” and “opera house” are not generally terms that go together, but in June 2006 the Canadian Opera Company will take up residence in their new permanent home in downtown Toronto, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Credits for the Four Seasons Centre, the first of its type in Canada, go to Jack Diamond, pre-eminent architect from the award-winning Toronto-based firm Diamond and Schmitt Architects Incorporated, the design team includes Joshua Dachs from Fisher Dachs Associates of New York and Julian Sleath, technical director for the COC for the theatre planning and design, and Sound Space Design of London, England for acoustics.

The spectacular purpose-built 2,000-seat venue has been designed as a “proper” opera house, meaning it has three chambers–the audience hall, the open orchestra pit and the stage–all working in unison to provide perfect balance for voice and instrument. Additionally, an opera house is distinguished by the number of stages required to operate as a repertory theatre. Any great opera house has more than one stage. In the Four Seasons’ R. Fraser Elliott Hall there will be three: main, rear, and side.

The Hall has been designed in the classic European horseshoe shape and stainless steel booms for the theatrical lighting system are being lifted and fixed into place around the proscenium. In April, Selecon will be shipping almost 200 stage lighting fixtures for the front of house lighting bridges: 60 Pacific 5.5-13 Zoomspots, 54 Pacific 12-28 Zoomspots, and 54 Pacific 23-50 Zoomspots, plus 24 Aurora 4-way Groundrow.

The Canadian Opera Company owns the new building and will use it for mainstage performances approximately 24 weeks of the year. The National Ballet of Canada is the primary tenant and will use the theatre as its new performance venue, for 17 weeks annually with the venue available for community events and corporate rentals as well.