Turning Tallinn's Linnahall into a conference and opera theater would cost between €160-170 million, plans drawn up by the Ministry of Culture estimate.
Plans seen by ERR suggest funding should come from the cultural endowment, a pot of money taken from alcohol, tobacco, and gambling taxes, and donations.
"When talking about the new opera house, the option of using the big hall of today's Linnahall remains a serious debate," Minister of Culture Tõnis Lukas notes in a memo seen by ERR.
Lukas believes it is possible to accommodate both an opera and concert hall inside Linnhall, which would provide a more regular use of the building than if it only becomes a conference center.
The plans are expected to be discussed at a cabinet meeting on Oct. 17. and the Mayor of Tallinn, Mikhail Kõlvart, will be present. The City of Tallinn is the owner of the Linnahall and is planning to turn the building, a former concert hall, into an international conference center.
The design costs for the construction of the city hall opera and concert hall will be between €10 and €20 million, ERR reported. In addition to this, the construction costs and the cost of placing the National Opera and ERSO in the building are approximately €150 million.
Funding for the opera and concert hall could come from the Cultural Endowment, Lukas believes. In 2022 the last payments will be made to finance the construction of the Estonian National Museum and the hall of the Music Academy, meaning a new project can be funded. He estimates that around €10 million a year could be paid to cover construction costs. Money could also be applied for from the European Union.
The hall would be soundproofed, split into three different halls which could each accommodate 1,200 people. Different events could take place in each room with the possibility of removing the walls to create one big hall. To carry out these plans, the current roof needs to be raised by seven to eight meters and then the stage should be raised by 15 meters. The stage would then need to moved back to accommodate the necessary depth for the opera's performances.
The opera house would run an average of four evening performances a week for the National Opera. The season could host around 160 performances in the building, it is thought. This number can be reached as different performances could take place in each part of the partitioned hall. There could also be 10-15 additional concerts each year.
The building should also have recreational spaces to make it a popular meeting place for Tallinn's residents and an interesting attraction for domestic and foreign tourists visiting the city.
Estonia Opera House's problems
The memorandum says the Estonia Theatre, the current home of the Estonian National Opera, does not fit the requirements needed for the opera because it was originally built for drama productions. Despite undergoing several renovations the hall, stage, rehearsal and backstage rooms do not meet the organizations needs for opera and ballet performances. "The existing building still has its own limitations that cannot be changed," it says.
Poor acoustics and a stage too-small stage which limits production sizes are other concerns, alongside the ability to park outside the venue.
Editor: Helen Wright