Opera House: endangered architectural site

Mumbai: The Royal Opera House here has been included in the 2012 World Monuments Watch, becoming the second building in the city after the Watson`s Hotel, to figure in the list of endangered architectural sites.

"The non-profit World Monuments Fund (WMF) included the building in its 2012 list earlier this month. The list has 67 architectural sites that are under risk of being lost," historian Sharada Dwiwedi said.

The building is now owned by the former royal family of Gondal, who have plans to restore it.

Dwivedi, who met the Gondals while writing a book on the Indian royal families, said that the Maharaja would like to prevent the building from getting lost.

"The Royal Opera House has played a major role in the context of the city`s fascinating history of theatre and cinema," she said.

The Royal Opera House has given its name to the locality in south Mumbai.

"The list puts the building on the international map and will help get the attention of corporate houses that may want to help the restoration," she said.

The Royal Opera House was built in 1915 in Baroque style popular in Central Europe, by Maurice Bandmann, an entertainer from Kolkata and Jehangir Framji Karaka, a coal broker. It hosted operas and drama, including performances by Bal Gandharva and Prithviraj Kapoor.

In 1935, it was converted into a movie hall. However, as single-theatre cinemas fell into bad days with the coming of multiplexes, the Royal Opera House closed down two decades ago.