The steel, slate, and wood structure, designed by the Cardiff firm Percy Thomas, is intended to evoke the landscape of Wales (according to press reports, locals refer to it as "the Armadillo") and to become a national icon along the lines of the Sydney Opera House.
The WMC will host touring performers and serve as the home base for Welsh National Opera, the Diversions Dance Company of Wales, and other music, theater, and education groups, including Touch Trust, a music therapy service for disabled children.
Tonight's performance includes appearances by the Birmingham Royal Ballet, Welsh National Opera, and BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Five leading Welsh artists‹their names have not been revealed‹will be honored in the first installment of an annual event.
The celebration continues through the weekend with an open house, fireworks, and dance, theater, and music performances, and comes to a close on November 28 with a televised gala attended by the royal family and featuring Terfel, the Royal Ballet, the Kirov Ballet, and Welsh National Opera.
Among the events scheduled for the opening season are several WNO productions, including Wozzeck, La traviata, and The Magic Flute; a performance of Sleeping Beauty on Ice; the Hijinx Theatre's Paul Robeson Knew My Father; and a visit from the Kirov Ballet.