Bangalore Vignettes - Opera House
When I had moved to Bangalore in the early 2000s, The Opera House building at the end of Brigade Road (one that meets Residency Road), was already well past its prime. Like hundreds of other such colonial-era buildings in the city at the time, it was in disrepair and mired in lengthy legal disputes1. I must’ve thought that it would meet the inevitable fate that awaited buildings like these - to be torn down for a glass-concrete highrise with a mall and offices - because my 20-something self hasn’t seemed to have bothered to even take a proper picture of the building. The only picture of the building I have from my time in Bangalore is an accidental one. I was taking a picture of the decorative wooden cornice at a (now long closed) Chettinad restaurant on Residency Road for use in my blog’s header2 and a large part of the Opera House building happened to be in the background across the road.
As you can probably tell from the picture, it was not in a good shape.
So it was a very pleasant surprise to return to Bangalore 11 years later and find this building fully restored. It was a little jarring to see it turned into a Samsung showroom and even branded as Samsung Opera House - but hey, if that’s what it took to save the historical building, I am not complaining.
It also seemed like Samsung were being a good custodian. There was a small open courtyard outside, freely accessible to the general public.
One Friday evening, as we were walking past the building, we heard snatches of one of our favourite Bollywood songs through the din of traffic and incessant honking. A small musical concert was taking place in the courtyard3.
As the short clip below will hopefully testify, not only were the performers talented, the speakers they were using did a good job of projecting the sound and masking the traffic noise. Somewhat.
We joined everyone else enjoying the music on that pleasant Bangalore evening and stayed for about twenty minutes. It is one of my fondest memories from this trip.