The tale of a cultural jewel: Know about the restored Royal Opera House in Mumbai
Neville Sukhia

The tale of a cultural jewel: Know about the restored Royal Opera House in Mumbai

Know everything about India's only surviving Opera House.

As India's sole surviving opera house, Mumbai's Royal Opera House is an architectural marvel, seated on Mumbai's Charni Road. The space here has hosted some of the nation's most remarkable artistic performances and it continues to thrive.

From setting the stage for Lata Mangeshkar's debut to welcoming thespians like Prithviraj Kapoor, Bal Gandharva, and Dinanath Mangeshkar, Royal Opera House has been a pioneer in the world of performance venues. Join us on a fascinating journey through its rich history and the awe-inspiring saga of its rebirth.

Early glories of the Opera House

In the early 20th century, 'Bombay' was teeming with entertainment hubs, but it lacked a show-stopping venue. The solution? Build a grand opera house, of course! In 1908, Jehangir Framji Karaka, a Parsi businessman and Maurice Bandmann, a Calcutta-based theatre maestro, teamed up to finance and design this astonishing theatre. Their blueprint was a exquisite fusion of European and Indian architectural flair.

The foundation stone was set in place the following year, and King George V himself inaugurated it in 1911. The main construction, combining the Baroque with a delightful mix of Indian and European influences, was wrapped up in 1912. It quickly became the go-to place for the arts and the highbrow crowd, initially exclusively showcasing operas. People would whisper, "It's the theatre-de-luxe of the East"!

Fast forward to 1935, and Royal Opera House was playing host to film screenings, fashion shows, and musical gigs. But as competition in the city grew, the opera house started singing a financial blues tune in the 1980s. Ultimately, the owners, Maharaja Jyotendra Sinhji Jadeja and Maharani Kumud Kumari Jadeja of the royal family of Gondal, made the hard call to pull the curtains down in 1993.

Though a lamentable decision, it was never meant to be a permanent swan song. "It was always meant to be renovated. We were never going to keep it in this condition," insisted the Maharani.

A symphony of restoration: Renaissance of Royal Opera House

Under the watchful eye of conservation architect Abha Narain Lambah, the Royal Opera House was reborn with a triumphant crescendo, in 2016. Lambah's mission was segmented threefold, over a period of 7 years: reinforce the building's structure, recapture the original Baroque magic, and equip it with 21st-century bells and whistles, like top-notch acoustics, air conditioning, electrical wizardry, and state-of-the-art fire-fighting gear.

The restoration was like a carefully crafted work of art. The historic chandeliers, sculptures, trompe-l'oeils, paintings, and even the ancient Minton tile floors, marble, cast iron, and Burma teak - all got a ticket to the time machine. Craftsmen meticulously restored wooden boxes, painted murals, planted decorative plasterwork, and refined the theatre's stained glass, bringing the grandeur back to life.

Today, Royal Opera House is not just a stage; it's a piece of living history which dazzles a new generation of culture aficionados.

Upcoming shows at Royal Opera House

Check out these upcoming shows at this grand venue and experience its beauty and elegance yourself.

- Candlelight India: A Tribute to QUEEN

When: 27th Oct at 7 PM

Book here

- Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs: A Ballet Musical

When: 28th Oct at 6 PM

Book here

- The Jungle Book - A Musical Adventure

When: 29th Oct- 26th Nov

Book here

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