Ballet Opera House

Strategically located in downtown Toronto between Bay and Yonge Streets, the Ballet Opera House was planned as the performance centre and home for the National Ballet of Canada and the Canadian Opera Company.

The heart of the project is a horseshoe-shaped auditorium accommodating 2,000 seats and surrounded by six levels of loggias with rounded arches that were reminiscent of traditional theatres in Europe. The main auditorium is modeled on the horseshoe opera houses of Europe and is intended to recreate the intimacy and scale for which they are famous.

Behind the auditorium the main stage and stage tower were located. There were also three support stages and an acoustically isolated stage for full stage rehearsals. While the exterior of the building is composed of a series of tower-like elements, integrating it with the surrounding streets of Toronto.

A glazed five-storey rotunda forms the corner entry and connects directly with the surrounding city; an interior urban piazza animated by the daily rhythms of pedestrians, shoppers, rehearsing performers, theatre administrators and night-time crowds. The orchestra level of the rotunda gives access to the Gallery of the Artists, a linear spine organizing the myriad polyfunctional rooms of the complex. The public at street level can catch glimpses of the 800 people engaged in the production of opera and ballet in the building.

Precast concrete panels inlaid with marble and granite marquetry enrich the basic exterior surface cladding of the building. An outdoor amphitheatre encourages informal performances and seeks to establish the Ballet Opera House as a destination for urban recreation. At night, domes above the public halls glow in the urban skyline. The project was suspended by Ontario’s newly-elected New Democratic Party in the spring of 1990, one month before construction was scheduled to begin.