The Grand Opera House is a theatre in Belfast, Northern Ireland, designed by the most prolific theatre architect of the period, Frank Matcham. It opened on 23 December 1895. Variety programmes dominated in the 1920s and 1930s and the theatre saw performances by Gracie Fields, Will Fyffe and Harry Lauder. It became a repertory theatre during World War II and at the celebrations to mark the end of the war, Eisenhower, Montgomery and Alanbrooke attended gala performances at the theatre. The Grand Opera House was acquired by the Rank Organisation, which led to its use as a cinema between 1961 and 1972.
As business slowed in the early 1970s with the onset of the Troubles (conflict in Northern Ireland during the late 20th century). The building has been damaged by bombs on several occasions, usually when the nearby Europa Hotel had been targeted. It was badly damaged by bomb blasts in 1991 and 1993. The theatre continued, however, to host musicals, plays, pantomimes and live music.
In 1995 the running of the theatre was taken over by the Grand Opera House Trust. An renovation was undertaken in 2006 with the addition of the Baby Grand performance space together with extended foyers, extended stage wings and artist accommodation and access for customers with disabilities.References:
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.