Witnessing a performance at an opera house is a treat for all the senses. Their appeal lies not only in the magnificent performances but also in their decor, architecture and the atmosphere of the place. It is certainly a magical experience. Apart from being a treat for all classical music lovers, opera houses are historical and architectural wonders which are worth visiting even if you are not a music enthusiast ans they are something every city is proud to have. So, visiting an opera house must be on everyone’s checklist! Here are some of the most exquisite and world-famous opera houses which have been every traveller’s delight:
10. Margravial Opera House, Bayreuth, Germany:
This exquisite opera house is perhaps the only preserved opera house where the audiences can experience opera just the way it sounded back in the 1700s when it was built. It was designed by renowned theater architect Giuseppe Galli Bibiena. This opera house is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its stunning and well preserved Baroque architecture. The main design of this place comprises of red, blue and gold gems.
9. Hungarian State Opera House,Budapest, Hungary
One of the finest pieces of architecture in Hungary, this opera house was inaugurated in 1884. It was designed by Hungarian architect Miklós Ybl and it consists of two marble sphinxes guarding the entrance to this neo-Renaissance-style theatre. The statues of Liszt and Ferenc Erkel, the father of Hungarian opera greets the visitors at the entrance of the opera house. Helmeted sphinxes hold up the boxes beneath a frescoed ceiling by Károly Lotz. It was badly damaged during the Second World War but was restored later.
8. The Metropolitan Opera, New York City, USA:
Popularly known as the Met by opera lovers all over the world, this opera house was opened in 1880 and in found in the Lincoln Center which also houses New York Philharmonic, New York City Ballet, a library and two theaters. It is the main center of classical music in North America and is known for its classical and magnificent performances by world’s most accomplished opera singers. It was designed by Wallace K. Harrison and is known for its modern architecture, superb acoustics and audience-friendly sights. Operas at the Metropolitan Opera are regularly filmed and are presented in theaters all over the world. This world famous opera house has premiered a host of important operas such as Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West and II Trittico, Humperdinck’s Königskinder, and Philip Glass’s The Voyage.
7. Teatro di San Carlo Naples,Italy:
Teatro di San Carlo, opened in 1737 is the oldest working opera house in the world and also has the oldest auditorium in the world. It was built by King Charles of Bourbon and was considered the most prestigious theater in Italy until the opening of La Scala. It’s horseshoe-shaped rooms with six tiers of box seating, with a magnificently decorated royal box at the rear of the house along with excellent acoustic qualities set standards for many architects to follow. It was ravaged by a fire in 1816 but was restored later due to the efforts of architect Antonio Niccolini. The operas performed here are some of the best in the world, today and in earlier times too.
6.The Bolshoi, Moscow, Russia:
One of the most important cultural centers in Russia, the Bolshoi was built by Andrei Mikhailov in 1824. The architecture of the opera house speaks of its great splendor with its neoclassic portico topped with the statue of Apollo in his chariot. Also its balconies and top gallery have Chippendale chairs upholstered in red damask and the boxes are painted white with their bas-reliefs of acanthus leaves, lyres, etc.It is known for one of the best symphony orchestras in the world and has witnesses memorable productions of Swan Lake, The Golden Age and Romanda choreographed by Yuri Grigorovich. This opera house has survived wars, revolutions, fires and was also the site of Lenin’s last public speech.
5. Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires, Argentina:
Teatro Colón opened in 1908 with the performance of Verdi’s Aïda, it was designed by a succession of architects, therefore its architecture features a variety of styles associated with European theatres. Its architecture incorporates Italian marble, French stained glass and Venetian mosaics making it a major landmark in Buenos Aires. It was the world’s largest opera until the completion of Sydney Opera House in 1973. Teatro Colón is said to have one of the best acoustics in the world and even a single mistake on the part of the singer could not go unnoticed. It is known for its world-known artists and great performances and it has it’s own costume and scenic construction departments.
4. Sydney Opera House, Australia:
Regarded as one of the finest pieces of late modern architecture, Sydney Opera House was designed by Jørn Utzon and built in 1973 and its opening night witnessed a performance of Prokofiev’s War and Peace. Each theatre is paneled in different types of wood to enhance the acoustic qualities and all major performances have their own foyers. It holds an array of concerts, plays, operas and some of the most significant ones include Joan Sutherland Theatre, Drama Theatre, Utzon Room, the Concert Hall and the Forecourt which is an open-air venue presenting outdoor performances. Situates on a small piece of land that extends into Sydney’s harbour, Sydney Opera House has spectacular views of the harbour and is a treat to the eyes during festivals.
3. Vienna State Opera, Vienna, Austria:
Also known as the Vienna Staatsoper, this opera house was designed by Eduard van der Nüll and August Sicard von Sicardsburg and was completed in 1869. The opening was marked by Mozart’s premier Don Giovanni which was attended by Emperor Franz Josef and Empress Elisabeth. This neo-Renaissance style opera house is decorated with sculptures, paintings, tapestries and frescoes. During its early days, the Imperial box was reserved for the Vienna’s royalty and their guests. It has the world’s largest repertoire and reached a high point under the direction and guidance of Gustav Mahler. Most of the structure was destroyed during the Second World War in 1945 and was later reopened in 1955 with a new auditorium. However, the main lobby, central staircase, Tea Salon, Schwind Foyer, and its attached veranda miraculously survived. The first piece performed on its reopening was Beethoven’s Fidelio.
2. Paris Opera, Paris, France:
Designed by architect Charles Garnier, this opera house was completed in 1875. This opera house is a vivid example of Belle Époque baroque and is considered the archetypal opera house. The back wall of the stage opens to a seemingly infinite cave illuminated by gilded Corinthian columns where the dancers parade in progression giving a glimpse into the world of ballet. It is among the best known opera houses partly due to the reason that it was used as a setting for the world-famous musical, “The Phantom of the Opera.” This magnificent opera house features a massive chandelier in the center of the theatre and ornate marble statues depicting figures from Greek Mythology. It also consists of bronze statues of great composers such as Beethoven, Mozart and Rossini along with Chagall’s painted ceiling which depicts scenes from 14 operas. While the beauty of the Paris Opera is known worldwide, it is notorious for its poor sight lines.
1. La Scala, Milan, Italy:
One of the most famous opera houses, La Scala was designed by architect Giuseppe Piermarini and was opened in 1778. It has held the reputation as premier opera house since its first performance of “L’Europa Riconosciuta,” by Antonio Salieri. Designed in the neoclassical style, it is famous for its concave channel under the wooden floor of the orchestra giving the theatre excellent acoustics. It also houses the La Scala Museum which features a collection of paintings, costumes and gives a glimpse of the opera’s history. This opera house has witnessed some of the greatest operas performed by Gioachino Rossi and this is the place where Giuseppe Verdi gained fame.