HOT NEWS
Titanic II Cruise Ship not designed to make money ! Project is about love, not money, and "for the benefit of the world" says owner
Luxury Travel Spending Up 9.2% Despite Gloomy Economy throughout 2013 reports American Express Travel!
The global population will reached 7.6 billion by the end of 2013, just 13 years after hitting 6 billion.
Luxury Report 2013 says High Earners Not Rich Yet (HENRYs) earn $100,000-$249,999 still feel the Global Financial Crisis.
Shanghai leads the worlds most populous cities in the world with 18,336,133 (July 2013) people. Karachi in Pakistan at 2nd place with 13 million citizens.

Oman’s operatic sound and sin !

Omans new Opera House in Muscat opens to rave reviews

When Plácido Domingo sang at the Royal Opera House Muscat, which opened in Oman’s capital in 2011, the Spanish tenor was heard across the Gulf. Not literally; Domingo is good, but not that good. However, his performance, part of the opera house’s impressive opening season – pricked the ears and inspired the imaginations of leaders across the region, who are now racing to build similar venues in their own nations.

Omans new Opera House in Muscat opens to rave review

Construction schedules are yet to be confirmed, but Dubai, Kuwait and Baghdad have all announced plans to build their own opera houses, while Doha is already home to a well-established performing arts centre called Katara Village, which opened in 2010. But this scramble to construct opera houses in the Gulf is more than just a trend. It represents a cultural shift in these conservative Islamic nations, where indulging in the pleasure of music has traditionally been regarded as haram (sinful).  In fact before the opera house even opened, in 2010 the Grand Mufti of Oman, Sheik Ahmed bin Hamad al-Khalili, issued a fatwa against the venue, deeming it “unacceptable” for Muslims to visit.

Other critics questioned whether the building’s undisclosed cost could have been put to better use at a time when the global financial crisis was biting and the Arab Spring was gathering momentum. “The situation in Oman was tense,” explained Susan Al Shahri, a columnist for Muscat Daily. “Most of the demands during the Arab Spring involved better economic conditions – so the Royal Opera House Muscat seemed like a pure indulgence at the time.”

Omans new Opera House in Muscat opens to rave review

The mastermind behind the Royal Opera House, the Omani Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, is renowned for his liberal policies. Since overthrowing his father in a 1970 coup, he repealed strict censorship laws and granted women the right to vote (although in an absolute monarchy like Oman, this right carries little influence). By appointing Christina Scheppelmann as the opera house’s director general, the sultan has championed the advancement of women in a region where gender inequality is rife.

Politics aside, the opera house is a crowning glory for the music-loving sultan – perhaps even his masterpiece. Set in verdant, manicured gardens – a manmade oasis in a desert city – the venue is not only a grandiose celebration of international culture, but a triumph of contemporary Islamic architecture.

Pulling up outside the building on a recent visit, I was blinded by the dazzling white marble façade as it reflected the sun’s rays. I reached for my shades, but even through the darkened lenses my senses were stunned – not by the glare, but the sheer stature of the building. The marble archways alone soared some 9m high.

Omans new Opera House in Muscat opens to rave review

I walked through them and into the opera house, where tour guide Iman Said Al Harthi explained more about the architecture. “The ceiling is carved from Burmese teak, the marble comes from Italy and the lights are from Austria,” she said. These materials are a celebration of Muscat’s rich maritime history and represent the natural resources that were discovered by early Omani seafarers, who were traversing oceans from as far back as the third millennium BC.

Yet the opera house is more than just lavish embellishments; it has hosted an impressive array of talent, including lauded Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, American soprano Renée Fleming and 15-time Grammy-award-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

The key to attracting such talent, commentators said, lies in the auditorium’s acoustics. “The Royal Opera House Muscat is the finest music venue I have been in,” said Al Shahri, who, like the sultan, developed a keen interest in music while studying in Britain. “I have been in the London Coliseum, the Royal Albert Hall and many others. There’s no comparison.”

While reminiscent of the great opera houses of Europe, with carved wooden panelling and ornate stuccos, the Royal Opera House Muscat also features technological innovations that make this one of the most state-of-the-art theatres in the world.

Omans new Opera House in Muscat opens to rave review

Touch-screens are located on the back of every seat so patrons can read translated subtitles of each performance. More impressive, though, is the ability to transform the auditorium from a proscenium style theatre, characterised by its arched ceiling, curtained stage and orchestra pit, into a symphonic concert hall – a shoebox shaped music hall with a flat ceiling – at the touch of a button.

This versatility has enabled the venue to host anything from jazz concerts and African brass bands to Shakespeare productions and ballets – art forms that have found a new fan base in the Gulf, said Nasser Al-Taee, an advisor to the opera house’s board of directors. “Our tickets are sold out months in advance, which is not part of our culture because we Omanis like to be more spontaneous,” he said. “The trend is catching on – other countries in the Gulf are interested in having similar organisations  and that’s a good thing for the region.”

The theatre’s success is also beneficial for international visitors, who can watch world-class performances in a world-class venue for less than they would pay in the theatres back home; tickets for shows start from as little as one rial and opera tickets can be purchased for half what you would pay in more established venues. When it comes to the performing arts, the stage is set for great things in the Gulf.

Automobiles
The most beautiful Aston Martin
The most beautiful Aston Martin

Aston Martin’s most powerful four-door sedan, the Rapide S, is on its way to customers soon.The Rapide S features a heavily revised front-end look...

Barcelona by Sidecar
Barcelona by Sidecar

In Barcelona, one of the most romantic and stylish cities in Europe, the last thing you want to do is ride an embarrassing tour bus full of camera-t...

 The flying car Terraugia's Transition
The flying car Terraugia's Transition

  It sounds like something from the wildest fringes of fantasy. But an American aeronautical company, with funding from the US Department of Defen...

Fashion & Lifestyle
Most Expensive Cities in the World
Most Expensive Cities in the World

If you don't plan to read the full list, the answer is Singapore, but the land of swanky skyscrapers, expensive luxury malls, and transport that tri...

New Spa at Four Seasons Vancouver
New Spa at Four Seasons Vancouver

Visitors to the well, loved Four Seasons Hotel in Vancouver can now enjoy the recently opened RedCedar boutique massage suite. Following the Hotel...

Sha Wellness Clinic Spain
Sha Wellness Clinic Spain

Spain’s Sha Wellness Clinic in Albir Beach is an amazing place to detox and enjoy the comforts of a medically conscious spa. They have more than 4...

Recommends
Flying Hotels - First Class
Flying Hotels - First Class

Improvements to the First Class experience on International Airlines are being seen at a very fast pace. Passengers have always enjoyed extra servi...

Catholic abbey now a Hotel
Catholic abbey now a Hotel

What's the one thing a nearly 900 year old hotel in Spain needs to attract guests in 2014 ? Google Glasses at least according to Abadía Retuerta Le...

La Posta Vecchia Hotel, Italy
La Posta Vecchia Hotel, Italy

When we arrived at La Posta Vecchia, we knew we were in a magical place where a relaxing holiday awaited us. The hotel is situated only 25 minutes f...

Design
LA Home For Sale after 40 Years !
LA Home For Sale after 40 Years !

John Lautner's Genius Silvertop designed home goes to market for first time since 1974. There has never been a home by Organic Modernist John Lautne...

Most Expensive Penthouse Monaco
Most Expensive Penthouse Monaco

There’s word going around that the world’s most expensive penthouse has just been snapped up by an unnamed Arab Sheik for a whooping $305 millio...

Abu Dhabi takes on the art world
Abu Dhabi takes on the art world

Soon, art lovers may decide to skip Paris, Rome and New York in favour of Abu Dhabi. The oil-rich capital of the United Arab Emirates is embarking ...

Travel
Singapore wins 2015 top spot !
Singapore wins 2015 top spot !

Singapore has clinched the number one spot on Lonely Planet’s list of the top countries to visit in 2015. Praised for its multicultural diversity ...

Pacifics Five Best Islands
Pacifics Five Best Islands

The vast pacific has lots to offer and thousands of islands from Tahiti to the Whitsundays. Luxury hotels wait for the discerning travelers. Here is...

F & B
Hotels for Wine Lovers
Hotels for Wine Lovers

Today’s wine lovers want more than a well stocked minibar when they travel and more than a few are catering to this discerning market segment. W...

One Dish to Eat in Venice
One Dish to Eat in Venice

You can't leave Venice without eating … Sardèle in saòr. A small dish of fried sardines marinated in white onions, vinegar, raisins, and pine nu...

Cruises
Beginners guide to Luxury Cruises
Beginners guide to Luxury Cruises

There is something about taking a luxury cruise that is not present on a holiday taken on good old terra firma. Perhaps it’s the lure of an opulen...

Venetian's protest ship visits !
Venetian's protest ship visits !

At one moment the scene is everything you expect of Venice; medieval churches, domes and bell towers, and water sparkling in the canal in front of y...

Banner
Luxury Travel Report Presents
LTR Travel
See All
City Hotels
See All
Resorts
See All
Airlines
See All
Destinations
See All
Cruises
See All