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The Roudaki Hall (Persian: تالار رودکی‎ – Tālār e Rudaki), officially the Vahdat Hall (تالار وحدتTālār e Vahdat),[1] is a performing arts complex in Tehran, Iran. It is the legacy of a prosperous and developing period for Iranian music, dance, ballet, and related performing arts.

Roudaki Hall / Vahdat Hall
تالار رودکی / تالار وحدت
Tālār e Rudaki / Tālār e Vahdat
General information
Type Opera House
Location Ostad Shahriyar Street (former Dr. Arfa Avenue), Tehran, Iran
Construction started 1957
Completed 1967
Inaugurated October 26, 1967
Technical details
Floor area 9.200 sqm
Design and construction
Architect Eugene Aftandilian

Named after Roudaki, a well-known blind Persian poet from the 9th century, the hall was among the best-equipped and modern opera houses in the world at the time of its inauguration.[2] After the 1979 Revolution, it was renamed Vahdat Hall by the new government. This hall was built by the initiative of Shahbanu Farah Pahlavi under the leadership of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran to mark his birthday and coronation.



Outside of the Hall in 1970.

Around the 1950s and 1970s, the Iranian national stage had become the most famous performing scene for known international artists and troupes in West Asia,[3] with the Roudaki Hall constructed in the capital of the country to function as the national stage for opera and ballet performances.


The complex was designed by architect Eugene Aftandilian, influenced by the Vienna State Opera, and was constructed during a period of ten years starting in 1957.[2] It was equipped with the latest lighting and sound system technologies of the time, with revolving and moving stages. The main stage consists of three different levels (podiums). The auditorium seats 1200 and has two tiers of boxes and balconies. The venue was fully supplied by Siemens Electrics. The main curtain in proscenium has a motif of a phoenix rising from the ashes, with the style of Persian miniature.

Just before the completion of Tehran's new opera house, Nejad Ahmadzadeh, artistic director of the Iranian National Ballet Company, was sent by the Ministry of Culture and Arts to the United States to visit their opera houses and study administrative, organizational, and technical constructions of American opera establishments that were deemed to be the most modern in the West. At his return, he was appointed as manager of the upcoming opera house, and established the technical, administrative, and artistic sections of the Roudaki Hall. The constructions of the hall were eventually completed in 1967.


Robert de Warren (right) being presented to the Emperor and Empress of Iran (left).

As part of the Shah's White Revolution, the Roudaki Hall of Tehran was constructed to function as the national stage for music, opera, and ballet, and was inaugurated by Emperor Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and Empress Farah Diba on October 26, 1967, on the occasion of their coronation. Two weeks of full house performances by international ensembles marked the coronation festivities. Numerous orchestras, opera singers, and dance companies were invited to perform for the occasion.

The hall is home to the Tehran Symphony Orchestra, Tehran Opera Orchestra, and the Iranian National Ballet Company. Other troupes, ensembles, and artists, such as the Iranian folk dancers, also used the stage of the Roudaki Hall for their presentations.

Close down and reopeningEdit

At the time of the escalating political upheavals in Iran and the 1979 Revolution, the activities of the Roudaki Hall were stopped, and the hall was eventually closed down during the ongoing Cultural Revolution (1980–1987). The Shah (Emperor) and the Shahbanu (Empress) were frequent visitors of the hall. The new regime viewed the hall as a symbol of the Pahlavi government's secular cultural agenda. The opera ensemble and the Iranian National Ballet Company were dissolved and the artists were dismissed. Archive of the Roudaki Hall, including costumes, videotheque, photo collections, and every thing else that was considered anti-Islamic, were destroyed under the new government. It has been said that the hall was at risk to be demolished, like in the case of the theater hall of Red Lion and the Sun in the city of Tabriz.

After the re-opening, the stucco relief of the Imperial Coat of Arms of Pahlavi Iran, which was depicted on the balcony of the royal box in the auditorium, was replaced by the emblem of the Islamic Republic. Art works such as the large oil painting of the Pahlavi coronation, along with any other elements reminding of the monarchy, were also removed. About 12 years, the hall had hosted the classical ballet and opera repertoire, although the official archive of Roudaki Hall does not keep any records of that period.[4] All references to the country's national ballet company have ever since been faded out, and there is no mention of the Iranian National Ballet Company in any of the publications or presentations of the hall.

The construction of the complex includes two venues, which were named the Roudaki Hall and the Small Hall. The main venue was then renamed Vahdat Hall (meaning "unity" in Arabic language), and the small hall was renamed Roudaki Hall.[5]

Since the revolution, the hall does not host any permanent ensemble alike the pre-revolutionary period, and has been used to stage a wide variety of events such as music concerts, theater plays, recitals, festivals, seminars, conferences, and etc.

In 2004, due to a private initiative, former workshops of the hall were turned into a puppet theater named Ferdowsi Hall, which is now one of the few stages for opera production in Iran.[4]

Productions and guest presentationsEdit

Media adds
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Tehran Opera Orchestra in 1972.

Before the 1979 RevolutionEdit

Pari Samar, Iranian opera singer, performing in Carmen (1975).



Various national and international festivals were organized at the Roudaki Hall, including:

  • International Film Festival
  • Ballet and Dance Festival
  • Folk Dance Festival
  • Annual Festival of Culture and Arts

Since the inauguration of the Roudaki Hall in 1967 until the last stagings in the fall season of 1978, world famous music, opera, and dance artists visited Iran to stage their works. Presentations of the guest artists and ensembles included:

Guest ballet companiesEdit

Guest ballet artists (dancers / choreographers)Edit

Guest opera singersEdit

Guest music ensemblesEdit

Guest musicians / conductorsEdit

Other presentationsEdit

After the 1979 RevolutionEdit

Ghamar Band at the Roudaki Hall, in 2013.

Roudaki Hall has remained as the most important venues of Tehran. Theater plays of different genres, as well as concerts of Iranian traditional, pop, and classical symphonic and orchestral music have been staged regularly. Among the presentations after the 1979 Revolution are:




  • International Fajr Film Festival
  • International Fajr Theater Festival
  • Tehran Art Expo.[6]

Guest presentationEdit

  • Dundee Repertory Theater


Spanish group Gipsy Kings's concert, on 12 August 2016.

Total capacity of the hall is about 750 seats; with 500 seats in the main hall, and 250 seats in the balconies.

Stage DimensionsEdit

  • Proscenium opening: 12m
  • Stage depth: 35m
  • From hall’s end to the proscenium opening: 23.75m
  • Stage height: 28m
  • Deck height: 85 cm
  • Proscenium opening height: 7m
  • Forestage: 2.70m

Operational and artistic directorsEdit

General directorsEdit

  • Hamed Rowhani (1967–?)
  • Abedin Zanganeh (?–1979)
  • ? (1979–?) (after the 1979 Revolution and before the re-organization of the hall in 2003)

Following a legislation from the Parliament of Iran in 2003, the operation management of the hall was reorganized. A new non-governmental public foundation was established in order to be in charge of the Roudaki Hall. The CEOs of Roudaki Foundation, responsible for the operation of Roudaki Hall have been:

  • Mehdi Massoudshahi (2003–2008)
  • Ali Asghar Amirnia (2008–2010)
  • Hossein Parsaee (2010–2013)
  • Hossein Seyfi (2013–?)
  • Bahram Jamali (?–present)

Ballet directorsEdit

  • Nejad Ahmadzadeh (1967–1976)
The Iranian National Ballet Company was founded in 1958 and moved to the Roudaki Hall in 1967.

Opera directorsEdit

Music directorsEdit

  • ?
  • Ali (Alexander) Rahbari (2015–present)



  • The history and existence of the Iranian ballet is forced to oblivion by the new government. There is no presentation about the Iranian National Ballet Company in the official website of the Roudaki Foundation, nor in any of its publications. In 2002, Mahoor Institute for Culture and Arts, based in Tehran, published the entire ballet music of Bijan and Manijeh composed by Hoseyn Dehlavi. There is no mention on the cover or in the CD booklet about the fact that Bijan and Manijeh was indeed a ballet music composed for the purpose of choreography.


  1. ^ Don Rubin, ed. (1998), The World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre, London: Routledge, ISBN 0415059283, OCLC 32008932 
  2. ^ a b CAOI: Tehran Vahdat Hall
  3. ^ Kiann, Nima (2015). The History of Ballet in Iran. Wiesbaden: Reichert Publishingi
  4. ^ a b Daniel Koetter: state-theatre #2 TEHRAN
  5. ^ beh bonyad-e farhangi-honari-ye Roudaki va majmoeh-haye tabe'eh (2011). Tehran: Public and International Relation office of the Roudaki Foundation
  6. ^ "Tehran Art Expo to open on June 17". Tehran Times. June 16, 2012. Archived from the original on November 6, 2013. 
  7. ^ [1] Notes on Roudaki Hall in Tehran, Iran – A Celebration of Opera by Liliana Osses Adams

External linksEdit