Tunbridge Wells pub reverts to opera house for day

The Opera House Image copyright
Image caption The Opera House in the town centre is now a public house, but retains it original stage and auditorium

A Kent pub is closing to drinkers for the day to return to its origins - as an opera house.

The Grade II listed Opera House in Tunbridge Wells town centre, which still has its stage, balconies and audience boxes, became a pub in 1996.

It is hosting two performances of opera favourites from the last 400 years by The Merry Opera Company.

"I love the fact that we are using the building as an opera house," said landlady Melanie De freitas.

"We are closed to the public all day and it is a massive change to the usual clientele."

Image copyright Merry Opera Company
Image caption Daisy Brown and James Harrison are among performers in Kiss me, Figaro!

The Merry Opera Company, based in Edenbridge, Kent, is performing its show Kiss me, Figaro!

Manager Matthew Quirk said Sunday would be the fifth time he had been involved with a performance in the pub.

"We love it because it was built as an opera house," he said.

"It has the most marvellous acoustics and it is just great fun to go there."

The Opera House opened in 1902, but became a cinema in the 1930s and a bingo hall in the 1960s.

Wetherspoons took it over 18 years ago but about twice a year it invites performers in and reverts to its original use.

The venue usually sells about 40 tickets, but makes only about half its normal £3,000 pub takings.

"Not as many people as we would like in Tunbridge Wells appreciate opera," said Ms De freitas.

"It's not something I am that fond of myself but it is great to have it here."

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