Tales from the Theatrical Woods: Chapter 28

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17 December 2018

We are now well into the third winter of opera house construction.  I can’t see it ending any time soon.  There will always be improvements, elaborations.

The larch cladding on the rear façade is now complete.  Being new it has a soft buttery hue, but it will soon weather down to a patina of shades of grey.

The changing appearance of undecorated larch is an aspect we are now addressing further as the 15 tree trunks felled 18 months ago on the Cowdrey estate are also larch.  Over the intervening period they have been slowly seasoning.  They will form the colonnade which will encircle the base of the auditorium.  The surface of the trunks has taken on a grey texture of darks and lights such as you might see on an expensive wall paper adorning an elegant drawing room.  There are also fine vertical splits in the trunks, a result of drying out.  They will sit on round plinths in their raw, barkless state and weather naturally over time.


This hands-off, organic approach has raised a debate as to how the protecting roof should be treated.  Martin Smith’s default position when it comes to stylistic interpretation is Classical and he has found a rustic Robert Adam precedent.  Wasfi and I are almost persuaded.  A mock-up has been built and the discussion continues, albeit on its detailed implementation.

Meanwhile friends have responded munificently to Wasfi’s request to empty long forgotten piggy banks and she now has a large pile of thrupenny bits and other pensioned-off coins of the twelve penny one shilling; twenty shillings one pound era.  They will be polished and embedded in the floor finish of the galleries; a tantalising glittering buried treasure.

David Lloyd Jones