Upon arrival in Shanghai, your first stop has to be the city’s political and cultural centre, the People’s Square, a green oasis amidst bustling Shanghai with its constant stream of traffic and crowded streets. To the north of the square are the city’s most iconic buildings and that’s where we are headed.
In the northwest corner of the square, you will notice a unique building. Its geometric shape is crowned with a concave white roof that seems to stretch infinitely towards the sky. In the evening, the glass building sparkles like a crystal palace, beckoning music lovers from all around the world to enter and enjoy the world-class performances inside. The crystalline façade, along with the fountains, ponds and gardens, is the work of renowned French firm Arte Charpentier. This beautifully orchestrated piece of architecture is the Shanghai Grand Theatre.
The theatre is a modern interpretation of the ancient Chinese design concept “jiu gong,” which means a perfect square representing the Earth element. Six clear columns support the roof, which symbolizes the sky. A complex structure of glass, steel and marble plays out in perpendicular angles. Filled with light, the building is artistic, functional and awe-inspiring. The theatre’s design expresses the architectural concept of Chinese “heaven-and-earth.”
From atop the stairs that lead to the entrance, you will see the sheet music inspired garden surrounding the theatre square. Hundreds of thousands of flowers and plants are shaped like musical notes, while the tiered fountains flow constantly around the crystal palace.
Impressive glass doors usher you into the 2000-square-metre foyer. Six beautiful pan flute-shaped chandeliers hang from the ceiling. On both ends of the foyer are crystal white Greek marble staircases that look like gigantic piano keys. White columns lining the spacious lobby enhance the predominantly white space that is minimalistic and sophisticated at the same time.
The SGT houses three theatres. The Lyric Theatre has the world’s largest, best-equipped and most dynamically designed stage. The Drama Theatre is elegant and comfortable, seating a medium capacity, while the Studio Theatre has a configurable stage and stowable seats for different types of smaller performances. At the SGT you can enjoy everything from operas, musicals, symphonies and chamber music, to ballets, plays and Chinese operas. All year round, international performances, variety shows, conferences, plays, even fashion shows and product launches take place on these stages. Talking about a full programme!
The famous Lyric Theatre’s front stage measures 728 square metres, with left and right side stages, and a 360-square-metre rear stage. Occupying over 1700 square metres, it is Asia’s largest automatic mechanical stage. The French-style theatre has three tiers holding a capacity of 1800 with a great sightline and acoustics from every seat. You can enjoy a dynamic yet personal experience, thanks to the state-of-the-art American JBL sound system and Belgian ADB Lighting Technologies.
The centralized sound system has over 40 surround speakers. They are strategically placed throughout the theatre (left, centre, right; top, middle, bottom) to provide ideal acoustics. Over 600 professional lights consist of dimmers, lanterns, strobe lights, followspots, ultraviolet, lighting bars, spot lights, PC-based lighting systems and so on. In addition to this are projectors, smoke and fog machines and many more special effects that create a life-like experience onstage.
Besides three auditoriums, the Shanghai Grand Theatre also has many other facilities: the SGT Banquet Hall on the top floor, Maxim’s Café in the west wing, as well as the ticket office, a gift shop, art galleries and plenty of underground parking.
You can savour delicious Shanghainese cuisine in the SGT Banquet Hall, which provides an à la carte menu and also caters to banquets, cocktail events, wedding receptions and other celebrations. The SGT Banquet Hall consists of the Stargaze dining room, occupying over 1000 square metres, 10 dining rooms of different dimensions and a VIP room. From the Banquet Hall’s observation deck, you can take in the beautiful view of the People’s Square under a starlit sky.
If you don’t feel like Chinese, you can choose from an executive lunch, afternoon tea, romantic dinner or Sunday set menus at the Parisian-inspired Maxim’s Café. Its welcoming atmosphere makes it a great place to take a break during the intermission. Open from noon to midnight, you can order from an express menu just before curtain call.
“Great art, great experience and great education” – the arts leave an indelible mark on our soul. The Shanghai Grand Theatre is guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience in a place where international cultures meet, through sights and sounds, in the heart of the city.
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