Named after its patron, South African businessman Donald Gordon who donated £10 million to the Centre, this stunning 'lyric' theatre has superb acoustics and was primarily designed for voice rather than an orchestra.
Opera is one of the most difficult productions to accommodate so the theatre was designed acoustically to ensure superb sound quality for every single seat.
In order for the sound to reverberate, a mixture of reflective and fragmented blocks were used on the walls.
Larger blocks were set away from the public towards the top of the balconies and the rear of the hall to help reflect sound up to the ceiling which bounces back down towards the audience below.
Even the seats are designed acoustically. The seats contain 121 holes in the bottom and are designed so that the sound they absorb mimics a fully-grown adult ensuring each performance sounds like it's playing to a full auditorium.
For musicals and concerts different acoustics are needed so acoustic panels and drapes are used all around the hall.
Productions and musicals
Some of the world’s most successful productions have taken to the stage here including The Lion King, Les Misérables, Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, Cape Town Opera as well as performances from our opera company in residence, the Welsh National Opera (WNO).
The theatre is also an excellent venue to come and see live music. Renowned musicians such as Billy Bragg, Elvis Costello, Van Morrison, Ben Folds, Rufus Wainwright, John Grant, Belle and Sebastian, and Don McLean have all played here.
Many internationally renowned companies have danced here too such as the Australian Ballet, New Zealand Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet from Russia, the Guangdong Acrobatic Troupe from China and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
The seating arrangement consists of an Upper Circle, Circle, Raised Stalls, Mid Stalls and Lower Stalls with ticket prices reflecting the seating location. There are also some standing positions, as well as wheelchair and carer spaces.
The 22 wheelchair spaces in the main auditorium are available for every performance and are situated on all seating levels. When booking a wheelchair space please let the ticket office know if you have any special requirements including any companion requirements.
The seating and stage area are highly adaptable depending on the type of performance and seats can be added or removed to accommodate the space needed.
The front semi-circlular area of seating is built on hydraulics and can be lowered for an orchestra pit that can accommodate up to 110 musicians. Six lift sections can raise or lower sections of the floor which makes it highly adaptable for every type of performance.
Our seats are on a steeper rake than normal too, so audiences can see the entire stage which is great for watching complex choreography and footwork during dance routines and ballet.