Following a decade of declining ticket sales and revenue the Canadian Opera Company has decided that the logical step is to go in search of a new audience. As General Director Alexander Neef puts it “We’ve tried everything in the playbook to build a new audience in Toronto; discounts for seniors, discounts for under 30s, community outreach, the lot and nothing has really worked so the board decided that if the audience won’t come to us, we must go to the audience. So we are moving lock, stock and barrel to Frankfurt. There’s a great audience there, as well as most of our singers. Besides it’s not like we will no longer be accessible to our existing audience. Air Canada has three direct flights per day from Pearson to our new home.”
I asked him exactly what the company meant by “lock, stock and barrel”. He replied that the company’s great strength was the Four Seasons Centre so that was going too. I seemed to remember that the building had some unusual design features and found this in the archives:
As Bradshaw had intuited, Diamond did indeed design the opera house from the inside out. Toronto rests on a subsurface of shale that transmits subway and other ground noises all too well, so “the room within,” as Diamond calls the theatre, sits on 489 shock- absorbing, silencing rubber pads. In addition, the entire hall—the stage, orchestra pit and seats—is a building within the building, isolated from the rest of the structure by a two-inch space. Each of the 2,000 seats in the R. Fraser Elliott Hall (the chamber’s official name) is positioned on its own air conditioning and heating provider, infinitely less noisy than the usual ceiling vents.
Further enquiry revealed that this unique modular design had anticipated the possibility that the entire structure might need to be moved. Prescient indeed! So it’s a long cruise via the Seaway, the ocean and the Rhein/Main for the iconic building opposite Osgoode Hall.