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The Opera House, Quay Street, Manchester

Formerly - The New Theatre / New Queen's Theatre

Original Proposed Name His Majesty's Theatre

Manchester Theatres Index

The Opera House, Manchester during the run of 'Anything Goes' in April 2015 - Photo M.L.

Above - The Opera House, Manchester during the run of 'Anything Goes' in April 2015 - Photo M.L.

An Advertisement for 'Kismet' the opening production at the New Theatre, Manchester - From the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 13th of January 1913.The Opera House on Quay Street, Manchester was designed by Farquharson, Richardson & Gill and originally opened as the 'New Theatre' with a production of 'Kismet' on Boxing Day, the 26th of December 1912.

Right - An Advertisement for 'Kismet' the opening production at the New Theatre, Manchester - From the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 13th of January 1913.

Some sketches of the proposed Theatre, originally to be called His Majesty's Theatre, published in the Academy Architecture and Architectural review of 1912, can be seen below.

The Opera House, Manchester during the run of Can-Can on the 9th of April 1956 - Courtesy Gerry AtkinsThe ERA reported on the opening of the New Theatre in their 4th of January 1913 edition saying:- 'After tremendous efforts to keep faith with its undertaking to open on Boxing Day, the New Theatre, Quay-street, Manchester, duly threw open its doors to the public for a matinee performance of "Kismet."

The occasion, however, can scarcely be said to have been a happy one, for the arrangements were by no means perfect for either the audience or the players.

Left - The Opera House, Manchester during the run of Can-Can on the 9th of April 1956 - Courtesy Gerry Atkins.

It says much for the goodwill of the audience toward the establishment of this handsome and spacious theatre that these drawbacks were tolerated with a patience that drew from Mr. Arthur Hardy, the general-manager, a thankful and complimentary appreciation; and fortunately, when the play began, the performance was so good, in spite of the stage obstructions, that the audience was satisfied to settle down to such enjoyment of the afternoon as was apparently in store for it.

The performance was timed to begin at two o'clock, but the vocal prelude was not heard until nearly half-past three. Meanwhile an accident to the drop-curtain had necessitated the use of a narrow cloth, which revealed the rafters of the stage; and much hammering of scenery and effects was going on within sight and hearing of the audience.

The auditorium and proscenium arch of the Opera House, Manchester in 1980 - Courtesy Ted Bottle. Nevertheless, the delay was for a long time acceptable to the hundreds who still mobbed the huge foyer in the patient expectation of having their invitation cards exchanged, at the tiny box-office window, for numbered seats which did not exist. These cards had apparently been sent out without discrimination, with the result that aldermen of the city, gentlemen of the Press, and members of the general public, found themselves in the end herded in unsuitable galleries or odd corners, and generally out of place, very much to their astonishment and discomfort.

Right - The auditorium and proscenium arch of the Opera House, Manchester in 1980 - Courtesy Ted Bottle.

The theatre itself is unfinished, but is decorated, so far, in white and gold, with crimson upholstery. It has two tiers of boxes on either side, and the circles are so arranged that a sight of the stage may be had from every comer. The seating capacity is 4,000, which will probably be freely utilised during the five weeks' run of "Kismet."

The above text in quotes (edited) was first published in the ERA, 4th January 1913.

The auditorium of the Opera House, Manchester in 1980

 

Above - The auditorium of the Opera House, Manchester in 1980 - Courtesy Ted Bottle.

Programme for Prince Littler's 'Glamorous Nights' by Ivor Novello, a transfer from London's Theatre Royal Drury Lane, at the Opera House, Manchester in February 1936.The Theatre was renamed the New Queen's Theatre in 1915, as an homage to the former Queen's Theatres on Spring Gardens and Bridge Street. Which had both been demolished previously, the first in 1869, and the second in 1911.

In 1920 the Theatre was renamed again, under the ownership of John Hart and his associates of the United Theatres Ltd., this time to the Opera House, a name it has retained to this day.

Right - A Programme for Prince Littler's 'Glamorous Nights' by Ivor Novello, a transfer from London's Theatre Royal Drury Lane, at the Opera House, Manchester in February 1936.

A Programme for 'Idiot's Delight' - Courtesy Michael Jaffé whose Grandfather Carl Jaffé was in the cast.In 1931 the Theatre was bought by Howard & Wyndham Ltd, led by A. Stewart Cruikshank from its headquarters in the King's Theatre, Edinburgh. The impresario and musical doyen Charles B. Cochrane, who was now a director of Howard & Wyndham Ltd, became a visiting producer.

The Theatre was Manchester's main Touring House until 1979 when it closed and was converted for Bingo use but this lasted for only five years and in 1984 it was bought by the Palace Theatre Trust, who had previously saved the Manchester Palace Theatre, and live Theatre was then reinstated at the Opera House.

Left - A Programme for 'Idiot's Delight' at the Opera House Manchester in March 1938 - Courtesy Michael Jaffé whose Grandfather Carl Jaffé was in the cast.

The Opera House, Manchester in 1988 - Courtesy Alan Ashton

Above - The Opera House, Manchester in 1988 - Courtesy Alan Ashton who says: 'When I was working for Granada TV in Manchester, right across the road was, of course, the Opera House, and I took this shot after the frontage had all been painted and restored.'

The manchester Opera House has a very large auditorium with two cantilevered balconies, each with a capacity of around 500, but because of their size they have rather restricted sight-lines to the rear. The Theatre's current capacity is 1,920. The Theatre was bought by the Ambassador Theatre Group in November 2009 and you may like to visit their own Website for the Theatre here.

The auditorium of the Manchester Opera House in May 2016 - Courtesy Michael Shaw

Above - The auditorium of the Manchester Opera House in May 2016 - Courtesy Michael Shaw

Some of the information for this Theatre was kindly sent in by Graeme Smith.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me.

Some Sketches and images of the Manchester Opera House

From the Academy Architecture and Architectural review of 1912. The captions for the images show the proposed name of His Majesty's Theatre although this was never used

A Sketch of the Auditorium of the Opera House, Manchester - From the Academy Architecture and Architectural review of 1912.

Above - A Sketch of the Auditorium of the Opera House, Manchester - From the Academy Architecture and Architectural review of 1912. The caption for the image shows the proposed name of His Majesty's Theatre although this was never used. Other information in the caption states:- Horace Farquharson and Richardson & Gill, Associated Architects. Modelling, Fibrous Plaster Work and Painting Decorations by John Tanner & Son, 45, Horseferry Road, London, S.W. and 3, 5, & 7, Gill Street, Liverpool.

A Plan of the Opera House, Manchester - From the Academy Architecture and Architectural review of 1912. The caption for the image shows the proposed name of His Majesty's Theatre although this was never used.

Above - A Plan of the Opera House, Manchester - From the Academy Architecture and Architectural review of 1912. The caption for the image shows the proposed name of His Majesty's Theatre although this was never used.

The Central Feature of the Main Facade of the Opera House, Manchester, still in place today - From the Academy Architecture and Architectural review of 1912. The caption for the image shows the proposed name of His Majesty's Theatre although this was never used.

Above - The Central Feature of the Main Facade of the Opera House, Manchester, still in place today - From the Academy Architecture and Architectural review of 1912. The caption for the image shows the proposed name of His Majesty's Theatre although this was never used.

A Plan of the Opera House, Manchester - From the Academy Architecture and Architectural review of 1912. The caption for the image shows the proposed name of His Majesty's Theatre although this was never used.

Above - A Plan of the Opera House, Manchester - From the Academy Architecture and Architectural review of 1912. The caption for the image shows the proposed name of His Majesty's Theatre although this was never used.

A Plan of the Opera House, Manchester - From the Academy Architecture and Architectural review of 1912. The caption for the image shows the proposed name of His Majesty's Theatre although this was never used.

Above - A Plan of the Opera House, Manchester - From the Academy Architecture and Architectural review of 1912. The caption for the image shows the proposed name of His Majesty's Theatre although this was never used.

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