Fresh opera talent taking stage at iconic Mercury Theatre

Wednesday, 10 August 2016 by Kiwi International Hotel

Built in 1910, this baroque-style theatre has been the home to many performances from comedies and pantomimes, to cutting-edge drama and musicals. Its landmark location just of Karangahape Road has made the Mercury Theatre one of the most frequented theatres since it was opened.

An inner-city icon, the Mercury Theatre is a cherished heritage building and simply setting foot inside the structure is a magnificent sight.

We're in for a treat this August at the Mercury Theatre. New Zealand's fresh young opera talent are set to take the stage in Handel's rarely performed Oreste.

This fiery tale is worth travelling to Auckland for, so book central accommodation and make the most of the vibrant inner city.

A mere five minutes is all it takes to walk from the Kiwi International Hotel to the Mercury Theatre. No need to stress about being on time, you can wander on down at your leisure and soak up the sights in between.

Mercury Theatre building exterior

What's in a name?

Over the years, the Mercury Theatre has undergone a number of name changes. Each time the name changed, a new era began.

The venue has always had a reputation for being ahead of its time in the New Zealand theatre scene. Beginning under the name of the King's Theatre, the venue not only had the facilities for live drama, but also for Electric Moving Pictures - quite modern for its time!

On Christmas Eve in 1911, only one year after its opening, the King's Theatre showed the very first colour film in New Zealand. Realising how much easier it was to organise a motion picture than a cast of performers, the King's Theatre began regular screenings. From this, the decision was made to relaunch the theatre as a full-time cinema.

With a new purpose came a structural change and a new entrance off Karangahape Road was formed. And now soaking up the glamourous world of film, it seemed fitting to name the venue the Prince Edward Theatre after one of the period's most glamourous personalities.

As radio and television began to enter homes across the country, the popularity of the cinema began to decline and live performances were once again a desirable use of the theatre.

The infamous abdication of Prince Edward led to another name change, one also more suitable for the theatre's mixed use for cinema and live performances. In 1947, the popular Auckland venue was renamed the Playhouse Theatre.

During its period as the Playhouse Theatre, the venue was home to the first performance of the Royal New Zealand Ballet - a historic event due to the very shallow stage. Over the next two decades, the Playhouse showed a number of plays, musicals and films, and the original entrance was re-opened.

Mercury Theatre building interior

The highs and lows of the Mercury Theatre

In 1967, the Playhouse closed and the building underwent extensive refitting in preparation to become home to The Mercury Theatre Company.

The company used the theatre as its headquarters and put on at least 12 productions annually between 1968 and 1991.

The productions were known for their extravagance and attracted many viewers. But due to the high costs of the shows, the theatre couldn't keep up with expenses and the company was forced to close its doors in 1992.

Until 2012, the theatre was owned and utilised by the Equippers Church. After attempting to sell the venue in 2009, the Church decided to take it off the market and revamp the theatre instead.

The Mercury Theatre was relaunched in January 2014. An exciting and memorable day for the theatre community.

Mercury Theatre child performers

A tale of sacrifice, danger and triumph is set to take stage

An opera fanatic or not, Handel's Oreste is a timeless tale that will have you gripping the edge of your seat.

Narrowly escaping her own sacrifice by the hands of her father, Iphigenia is destined for a life of fear as she is bound for a life of servitude to the goddess who saved her, Diana.

After being swept to the Island of Tauris, Iphigenia begins to loathe her life under Diana's order as she is given the gruesome task of sacrificing foreigners who enter the Island's shores. Amidst Iphigenia's mounting desperation, fates align and brings her estranged brother, Oreste, to Tauris.

Handel's adaptation of this ancient Greek myth tells the story of a search for sanity in a world drowning in fear.

Oreste rehearsal

Don't miss your opportunity to see this incredible performance at one of our much loved theatres. Book your tickets today and secure your chance to see some of New Zealand's best up and coming opera stars in a performance of a lifetime.

To get the most out of your inner city experience, stay at the Kiwi International Hotel. Book today and enjoy quality accommodation with the city at your doorstep.



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