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The Halls

Introduction
The Great Hall  |  Odeon  |  Oratorio  |   Jewel Box  |  Music Salon

ODEON

Seating up to 750, ConstellationCenter’s second largest hall will be the only fully-functioning Baroque opera house in North America, and the first built anywhere in well over a century.  The Odeon serves as an opera house and playhouse, a symphony hall, a wide screen cinema, as well as a venue for jazz, folk, world music and new music.  The design of this hall will take on a horseshoe shape with gently arced rows of seating in three tiers of balconies above the main floor.  The hall provides a sophisticated stage with mechanized systems to effortlessly transform the house for various performance modes.   

An Opera House and Playhouse
Watching Orpheus descend into Hell to save Eurydice, his love, is a seminal experience for any opera lover.  Opera as an art form was only two years old when Jacopo Peri staged his Euridice in Florence in 1600.  Dozens of other composers, including Rossi, Gluck, Haydn, Offenbach and Philip Glass, followed Peri in setting the Orpheus story to music.   The Odeon will allow vibrant realizations of these works, and many more, in ways that other available halls cannot.

The first public opera houses emerged in Venice around the year 1637.  One feature of these houses was a newly invented and unique system of stage machinery which incorporated sliding or rolling structures known as “shutter and groove.”  This machinery influenced all of Europe and inspired the works of Monteverdi, Vivaldi, Mozart, Haydn, Handel, Gluck, Beethoven, and Rossini, making it critical in authentically staging all operas composed before 1850.

The shutter and groove system allows for instant and dazzling scene changes of walls, ceiling, floor, set furniture and lighting that can be accomplished in a mere one measure of music.  The curtain never drops, nor do the lights ever dim, to hide a scene change; thus, the action never stops. While this immediacy in visually transitioning the performance is virtually impossible in contemporary theatres, ConstellationCenter has developed a modern, computerized technology that allows for these spectacular stage effects to be replicated.  In fact, ConstellationCenter staging system will improve upon the historical model.  Our system will allow for faster scene changes, a great range of scenic effects, and stage set construction that is easier and more affordable to produce. 

The Odeon possesses an emotionally rich and intensely clear acoustical environment attributable to its thick walls, elevated ceiling, recessed balconies, and unique balcony arches, made of three interlocking curves, giving the sound reflection and reverberation even distribution. 

Integral to any performance is the intimacy and connection between the performers and audience.  The Odeon achieves this standard with architectural elements running through both audience area and stage:  The stage itself projects into the audience and light levels are more homogeneous between the stage and the house compared to modern theaters.

Based on the public and palace theaters of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, arguably, the Odeon will be acoustically better than its precedents, since it combines the best features of several halls:  the sound reflection pattern of the Rokokotheater, Schwetzingen, the bass response of the Opéra Royal, Versailles, and the reverberation of the Drottningholm Slottsteater.

In the times when theaters like the Odeon dominated, the world of opera and drama was a profit-making business.  While ConstellationCenter is a non-profit enterprise, one of its goals is to make art affordable, both to those who make it and those who attend.  The Odeon’s stage systems and hall configuration supports this objective.

A Symphony Hall
Beethoven premiered two-thirds of his symphonies and Berlioz his Symphonie Fantastique in halls very much like the Odeon.  Berlioz, as well as other composers, felt strongly that music should be “fitted” to the building in which it is heard and “dramatic” symphonic music should be presented in spaces acoustically intended for opera and drama.

In Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust, trumpets and drums can be heard offstage, while the rest of the orchestra remains visually unobstructed.  With a proscenium stage and its accoutrements, the Odeon gives a theatrical element to a symphonic performance, allowing for this diversity in the placement of musicians. 

A Wide-Screen Cinema
The scorching, gritty sands of the twilight desert in Lawrence of Arabia, the magnificent eight-horse, two-quadriga wide image of the chariot race in Ben Hur, the menacing imperial battle cruiser gliding overhead in the original Star Wars—these are unforgettable images.  They were designed to be viewed on big screens that fill the eyes’ entire visual field, and on screens more than twice as wide as high.  Few movie theaters today can accomplish the effect that the filmmakers sought. 

Hollywood insiders point to a few theaters that outshine all others due to their superior sound and projection technology, outstanding sightlines, a compelling architecture, and just plain big screens.  ConstellationCenter has studied these and has improved upon both systems and viewing conditions.  The sound system has been completely rethought and redesigned.  The projection and screen systems are of a quality found in only a handful of theaters.  The sightlines and frame around the screen have been researched in detail, not done as extensively since the 1930’s, before wide screen movies became a standard.  Here the movies will shine, fully realized as the art form practiced by its best cast and crew.

A Jazz, Folk, World Music, and New Music Club
Even though performances of jazz, folk, world music, and new music are usually amplified, they are characterized by an intimacy and directness.  The Odeon’s design well suits these needs, starting with a great sound system and thrust stage.  While performers amplify their sound, the best venues have appropriate and excellent natural acoustics, too.  The speakers “play” inevitably into the room’s acoustic environment.  The Odeon’s opera acoustics enhance the interplay of the room’s acoustics and the speakers, and the sound system itself has been carefully designed and is permanently installed to match the space.  Whether it is a jazz orchestra, a steel drum band or a folk guitar performance, the Odeon provides a space for a variety of musical genres while delivering an unforgettable and acoustically unrivaled experience with each one.

 

The Rokokotheater in
Schwetzingen, Germany

The Rigoletto,
Stockholm, Sweden

The Odeon

Acoustic model of Odeon

43 Thorndike Street
Suite 301
Cambridge, MA
02141
Tel 617.939.1900 Fax 617.939.0190