Patrons left hot under collar as council looks at ventilation

By Staff Reporter

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While a full-blown air conditioning system is off the agenda, work will be done to ensure better ventilation occurs in the Royal Whanganui Opera House.

The Whanganui District Council is looking at possible solutions after the audience for last Saturday night's Whanganui Opera Week finale in the Opera House endured uncomfortably warm temperatures throughout the performances.

Kym Fell, the council's chief executive officer, was in the audience and said a combination of heat and high humidity that evening made things uncomfortable.

"While the Opera House does have a very good natural ventilation system it wasn't able to work as effectively as it should have on the night," he said.

He said part of the ventilation system behind the ceiling dome was yet to be fully commissioned after essential fire compliance work.

"Secondly, show producers have prescribed guidelines surrounding acoustics and light intrusion which meant the doors could not remain open throughout the performance."

Mr Fell said more than $1 million had been spent on the Opera House to upgrade its seismic strengthening, fire and access compliance, refurbishment of the seats and a new roof.

"While council had considered installing an air-conditioning system, the capital costs could not be justified for several evenings a year throughout the summer months.

"In the longer-term the council will consider a system for chilling incoming air, but in the meantime work will begin on options for more efficient ventilation of external air while keeping light, sound and fan noise to acceptable levels. "This should be resolved within four months.

"I am sure it can't come soon enough for many present last Saturday evening," he said.

Mr Fell said apart from the temperature, the audience had been "captivated" by performances from students who attended the New Zealand Opera School.

"It was an incredible opportunity for Whanganui people, and visitors to our district, to experience opera in a purpose-built facility and hear the stars of the future."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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