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Experts laud Seattle Opera's acoustics

August 06, 2003|Louise Roug

When the curtain went up over the weekend for the first performance at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall -- the extensively renovated home of Seattle Opera -- the acoustics created quite a buzz.

"After the first three notes of the prelude, people were looking at each other saying, 'Oh, my Lord, this is different,' " said Speight Jenkins, general director of the opera. "It fulfilled every dream we had for it."

For Russell Cooper and Mark Holden, acousticians on the project, it took a few more notes for the sound to sink in. On Saturday, they were sitting in orchestra seats for the production of Wagner's "Parsifal." "At the end of the first act," said Cooper, "I knew we had a winner."

The New York Times declared the new auditorium "acoustically excellent." The San Francisco Chronicle called the acoustics "a little short of magnificent."

Seating capacity is less than before -- 2,890 as opposed to 3,017 -- but sight lines have been improved, Jenkins said. The 18-month renovation, which gutted 70% of the existing McCaw Hall, was designed by Seattle architect Mark Reddington.

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