The Times has a review today of Zaha Hadid's new opera house in Guangzhou, China, with slide show. Even more pictures at the Guardian, here.
It looks spectacular, and it ought to fit perfectly in Guangzhou's space-age downtown of giant glass and steel buildings lit up in a dozen colors and sporting Eye-of-Sauron searchlights on top.
What use it will get is another question, since Guangzhou is a city better known for speculation, labor strife, and unbelievable growth than culture. Nicholas Ooroussoff notes that it has no resident opera company and a "mediocre program," and also that the "unskilled migrant workers" who built it made many errors, resulting in delays and problems; parts had to be rebuilt before the thing even opened.
I like Zaha Hadid's work because of its fantastical quality. It is anti-utilitarian, anti-Bauhaus, almost Baroque in some of its twists and turns. She is not afraid to do things that are utterly useless and sometimes downright weird. (Nice feature on her here.) She has had problems getting some of her creations built because of their great expense, like an earlier opera house she designed for Clerkenwell, Wales. In the City of Guangzhou, rolling in money and desperate for credibility, she found a client willing to pay for her kind of extravagance, and the results look great. I have not been able to find any reviews of what the theaters sound like, though, and since this has been a major flaw in many great-looking music halls, it remains to be seen if the opera will really do its job of bringing culture to a city of business.