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A first look inside Belmont’s new performing arts center

Updated: Sep 20, 2022

With its ornate chandeliers, aqua-painted interior, tall domed ceilings and powerful acoustics, Belmont University’s new performing arts center is unlike anywhere else on campus.

One of the ongoing expansion projects along Belmont Boulevard, the unnamed theater is set to be completed this fall after almost three years of construction, and its opening event will be the nationally broadcast “Christmas at Belmont” on Dec. 1.

And against the backdrop of its 1,700 yet-to-be-filled seats, Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher welcomed local media to the space Tuesday morning and announced the university’s future partnership with the Nashville Opera.

“I believe even my wildest dreams for this venue are being exceeded. I can’t wait for our students and the broader Nashville community to experience all this performance hall has to offer,” said Fisher.

President Fisher and university provost Dr. Thomas Burns look at the floor in the lobby of the performing arts center. May 11, 2021.

John Hoomes, artistic director of the Nashville Opera, announced at the preview event that the Belmont performing arts center will host a special showing of Richard Wagner’s 19th-century German epic, “Das Rheingold,” to close out the Opera’s season in May 2022.

It is believed to be the first fully staged production of “Das Rheingold” in Nashville, Hoomes said.

With a specially engineered horseshoe shape modeled after traditional European opera houses, Belmont’s performing arts center will be a timeless setting for this historic production.

But details in the building’s design will remind audiences they are on Belmont’s campus.

The new theater acknowledges its home everywhere, with balconies that showcase engravings of the Belmont bell tower. In the grand three-story lobby, the capitals of the columns feature bees and roses as nods to outgoing President Fisher and his wife, Judy.

Over their tenures at Belmont, both the Fishers played a critical role in the growth and beautification of Belmont’s campus. The performing arts center is “the big cherry on top” of his latest achievements, said President Fisher.

“It takes real vision to create something like this,” Hoomes said of the space.

Though the facility will bring professional projects and media attention to Belmont’s campus, it will also be a learning lab for students studying aspects of performance.

Fisher emphasized that the center was built for the students of Belmont, recalling a conversation with Chairman Marty Dickens of Belmont’s board of trust while the two were in the university’s current performance space — Massey Concert Hall. “Bob, this is a great facility,” Dickens had said. “But our students need something better, bigger.”

And soon, students will be able to make use of the facility themselves.

Dr. Stephen Eaves, dean of Belmont’s College of Music and Performing Arts, said that the new space will help Belmont students reach for higher excellence in the arts.

Eaves oversees the college that will likely use the center most frequently, and student-made productions of all kinds may soon find a home on Belmont’s biggest stage.

“I just can’t wait for our students to get in here and have a hall that they deserve,” said Fisher.

Fisher speaks onstage during the Opera announcement. May 11, 2021.

Eventgoers walk under chandeliers in the lobby. May 11, 2021.

This article was written by Sarah Maninger and Anna Jackson. Photos courtesy of the Belmont University Office of Communications.

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