The 10-month project to restore the Grand Opera House has been five years in the planning.
Tracey Brothers is expected to complete the work ahead of the theatre’s 125th birthday in December 2020.
The Grand Opera House was designed by the leading Victorian theatre architect Frank Matcham and completed in 1895. Many of the world’s leading entertainers have appeared on its stage, from Charlie Chaplin and Laurel & Hardy to Laurence Olivier and Luciano Pavarotti.
As part of the restoration and development project, the auditorium’s decorative paint and plasterwork will be repaired and restored, and seating, carpets, curtains and drapes will be replaced. The technical infrastructure will be upgraded, and customer facilities will be improved. The foyer and public spaces will be redesigned and a new bar will be installed in the glass extension overhanging Great Victoria Street.
Ian Wilson, chief executive of the Grand Opera House said: “The Grand Opera House was last restored 40 years ago, and we are delighted that Tracey Brothers have been appointed to oversee this vital project.
“Between January and November of this year, thanks to the support of lottery players and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we will restore the iconic and unique 1895 auditorium and transform the public areas of the building, including installing the first ever permanent exhibition to tell the fascinating story of the theatre’s 125-year history.”
John Tracey, director at Tracey Brothers, added: “It’s a privilege to work on such a prestigious heritage project as this. It’s rare to have the opportunity to restore a venue with a history and an auditorium as rich and spectacular as the Grand Opera House. We recognise the importance of these works being carried out in a sensitive manner to ensure this historic value is respected and retained for future generations and we’re very pleased to play a role in securing the Theatre’s future for many years to come”.
The contractor has a track record of restoring Belfast’s historic buildings, including Riddell Hall at Queens University Belfast, Crumlin Road Gaol, Cleaver House, HMS Caroline Historic Buildings and the Parliament Buildings at Stormont Estate.