Construction work on the building, originally known as the “Grand Opera House”, began in 1911. William Pitt, the architect, was based in Melbourne, Australia, and much of the work was overseen by local architect Albert Liddy.
The Opera House has three levels: stalls, circle and grand circle. It has fine moldings and an ornate dome. It is a brick building, with wooden floors. On either side of the proscenium arch are two boxes – arranged on top of each other.
In 1977, it was restored by the State Insurance company, and for many years it was known as the State Opera House. Today, it is simply called “The Opera House”. In recent years, The Opera House was operated by the same Trust which ran the nearby St James Theatre.
The Opera House was used for the theatre scenes in Peter Jackson’s 2005 film King Kong.
In October 2012 it was announced that the Opera House is below 34% of the earthquake code and may have to close for strengthening. However in 2016, the Opera House still stands strong and functions as it always has.
The ghost of Albert Liddy, the theatre’s original construction project manager, who shot and killed himself in 1913, ‘while of unbalanced mind’, has apparently been seen in the building and is blamed for misfortunes that befall people who criticise it. However it is impossible to say if the events are linked.
According to Opera House staff, there are at least two ghosts thought to be roaming the Theatre.