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Saigon Unveils Plan for a New Opera House in D2, the City's Largest to Date

If things go according to plans, Saigon’s Thu Thiem New Urban Area will get a brand-new performing arts center within the next four years.

As Nguoi Lao Dong reports, not long ago the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee submitted a proposal to municipal authorities regarding a plan to construct a dedicated theater in town for symphonic, operatic and ballet performances. The project is expected to cost VND1.508 trillion (US$64.75 million), which will come out of the city budget.

According to the proposal, the new arts center will be based in the Thu Thiem Peninsula, District 2 with two auditoria: a small space that fits 500 seats, similar to the current capacity of the Saigon Opera House; and a large space that can accommodate 1,200 spectators, the biggest in Saigon. If the proposal is greenlit quickly, construction could start this year with a goal to finish in 2022.

The new performing arts center will house the Ho Chi Minh City Ballet Symphony, Orchestra and Opera (HBSO), the members of which currently rent the basement of the Saigon Opera House for their operation. Established in 1993, HBSO is one of the few collectives in Vietnam that’s capable of producing and performing large-scale musicals, such as last year’s week-long Autumn Melodies 2017 program.

However, as there’s no dedicated venue for HBSO to operate and rehearse, their activity is usually dependent on the Opera House’s schedule and availability, according to Conductor Tran Vuong Thach, director of HBSO.

"We're very happy because after a long time with many difficulties, our hope for a home for high-brow arts in Ho Chi Minh City is slowly being fulfilled with tangible plans," Thach told VnExpress in Vietnamese.

Progress on the Thu Thiem Peninsula is slowly lugging along, marred by hosts of controversies surrounding land compensation. But both the city and private investors have announced many major projects in the area. Back in 2017, German architect Ole Scheeren unveiled a striking design for a “sky forest tower” while in April this year, municipal authorities also expressed hopes to put underground towns in Thu Thiem to accommodate Saigon’s ballooning population.

[Photo via Wikimedia]

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