Christchurch's Isaac Theatre Royal gets re-gilded

  • 04/06/2014

Italian conservators have painstakingly restored an ornate dome hanging in the ceiling of New Zealand's only surviving Edwardian theatre.

Christchurch's Isaac Theatre Royal was all but demolished after the quakes and now is just five months away from reopening.

The dome is the showpiece of the theatre, and now it is getting a touch of class with brass and gold gilding.

Isaac Theatre Royal chief executive Neil Cox says real gold will not be used.

"No, the price is far too high. The gold price has gone through the roof."

The dome was saved following the Christchurch earthquakes, and for the first time in more than 100 years, a series of canvas paintings from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream has been cleaned and restored.

Now eight specialists from Italy have brought the plaster back to life.

"We have to touch the area four or five times with different materials," says dome conservator Stefano Pessina.

The $40 million rebuild has been going for almost four years, and now the auditorium is taking shape.

One of the original royal boxes was put back in today.

"This will always be named the Ian McKellen Royal Suite," says Mr Cox.

The reconstruction has been full of challenges for project manager Ed Leeson.

"The recent episode was the flooding here," says Mr Leeson. "When Christchurch got flooded, we got flooded as well, so that's killed us."

But the dome was safe and is close to completion.

It will be unveiled to the public before the theatre opens on November 17.

3 News

source: newshub archive


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