The Shanghai Oriental Art Center (SOAC), with nearly 40,000 square-meter architectures, is one of the signature cultural facilities in Shanghai. In a bird’s view, the five interconnected hemisphere buildings - the Entrance Hall, the Performance Hall, the Concert Hall, the Exhibition Hall and the Opera Hall - resemble a butterfly orchid. In 2016, it had 652 performances throughout the year, with more than 600,000 audiences, both figures top among the nation. It made a record of simultaneously presenting 193 performances of 147 plays.
With a total of 1,953 seats, the Concert Hall is the first theater to hold concerts of the Berlin Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic in the Chinese mainland. Most of the world-renowned orchestras have played there. In 2016, the SOAC signed off on a strategic partnership with the Vienna Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra respectively, and then inked a residence-hall performance deal with the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra. The Concert Hall also has an 88-diapason 5-layer organ tailored made by Austria’s Rieger Pipe Organ. The Opera Hall has 1,015 seats, and has hosted performances for Mariinsky Theatre Ballet, the Royal Danish Ballet, the La Scala Theatre Ballet. It has a large central stage and advanced equipment to enable complex setting changes between theater acts. The Performance Hall has 333 seats, and its stage is composed of two cylinders with concentric circles of four-meters and eight-meter diameters, which can rotate in the same direction or opposite directions. In addition, the SOAC houses two VIP rooms, four rehearsal halls and several training classrooms.
The SOAC has committed to its core concept of “Enjoy Art, Enjoy Service” over the years. Wen Wei Po, a Hong Kong-based Chinese language newspaper, said the SOAC “has embarked on a successful road of operating and managing a modern Chinese theater.” After reviewing the performance contents and the operation of the SOAC, the world-renowned conductor Zubin Mehta said, “I am surprised to see such a world class theater in Shanghai.” A critic piece of the Chicago Tribune said, “It’s safe to say the theater is an important driving force for cultural changes in the entire region”.