Letter: Cardiff has been saved from an operatic folly

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The Independent Online
From Mr Peter Hirsch

Sir: Except for those who would have lottery money at any price and those who regard a rejection on any grounds as yet another insult to Wales, few people will be sorry that the design chosen and put forward for grant- aid has been rejected (report, 23 December). Many, indeed, will be relieved that an unpopular design will not be imposed upon an uninterested populace.

Most will not care: the design did not capture their imagination. Boxy and ungraceful in appearance, it looks too much like many Sixties buildings now in terminal decay. Comparatively expensive, it was regarded by all except the selection committee as less practical and attractive than several other designs, notably Nicoletti's "glass wave". This folly was likely to be difficult to fill and so finance; to keep clean and so attract visitors.

An opera house should have both elegance and utility. Because of the highbrow association, it should have been called anything but an "opera house". But it should still have style, be in keeping with its surroundings and have wide, popular appeal. Several other designs met these criteria. They would have been supported and filled by the public. A controversial building, primarily for putting on shows with minority appeal, would be unlikely to be viable and so would not have been a proper way to spend public money.

If Lord Crickhowell and his committee want to win this one, they should change now to a design that commands widespread public enthusiasm and support and then resubmit their application.

Yours faithfully,

Peter Hirsch

Coedarhydyglyn, near Cardiff

23 December

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