This week I had the unusual experience of visiting two new performance venues for the first time on consecutive days. On Wednesday night I saw Otello performed at the new Winspear Opera House, then at noon on Thursday I attended Bank of America’s Neighborhood Excellence program for 2009 at the new Cowboys Stadium.
The two venues are about as different as they could be. The Winspear is urban, intimate and sophisticated. Cowboys Stadium is suburban, monumental and impressive. It certainly appears that both venues do a wonderful job of providing a place to stage the type of show they were meant to stage. I can tell you from personal experience that the acoustics are wonderful in the Winspear and the site lines are impeccable. It is clearly a fine opera house. The Winspear is also a dynamic statement as a building with its red glass oval structure.
I can’t tell you how Cowboys Stadium is to watch a football game, because I was only there for a luncheon held in the concourse. But by every critique that I’ve read, Cowboys Stadium has every amenity that you can imagine (and that Jerry Jones can charge for!). The décor was exuberant—the sort of high level kitsch (football shaped lights!) that I like, but feel guilty about likely later.
It shouldn’t be a secret that I prefer the spectacle of opera to that of football, a fact that I blame on the beatings I took each week quarterbacking one of the worst high school football teams of all time a very long time ago. I’m delighted that Dallas now has a proper opera hall and I’m a season ticket holder.
Still, I’m also pleased that the Dallas area also has a world class football stadium. It seems extravagant that both these facilities (as well as the Wyly theater) opened in the middle of a serious economic crisis. Long term, however, it’s the existence of facilities like this that make a city dynamic and attractive. Much as I believe in housing the homeless, I still believe that we all need art and sport in our lives.
Long ago the Romans knew that you could keep the populace happy if you gave them both bread and circuses.