Opera houses are not only grandeur venues for dramatic performances. As well as stunning architecture and décor, opera houses carry a great amount of historical artwork and artefacts, making them living museums. Since the opening of the first public opera house in Venice in 1637, they have become symbols of the high class lifestyle, where the elite go to be entertained with ballet, opera and symphony orchestra performances among others. Of course, we can all experience a taste of the high life and enjoy the cultural enrichment and emotional uplift that you get from visiting an opera house.
And with an abundance of gorgeous opera houses around the world, it’s not easy to rank them. Each has its own charm and deserves attention. However, here we’ve compiled a mix of 12 of the most famous and beautiful among them, so… in no particular order:
Hungarian State Opera House, Budapest
Due to its horseshoe shaped auditorium, this neo-Renaissance style opera house is known to have the third best acoustics in the world with the first two places taken by the ones in Milan and Paris. The opera house is home to both, opera and Hungarian National Ballet. Various paintings and sculptures, fascinating murals its double grand staircase are among the outstanding elements of the Hungarian State Opera House.
Sydney Opera House, Sydney
This is one of the most famous structures in the world, which stands out from the classical opera house with its unusual modern architecture. Overlooking Sydney Harbour at Bennelong Point the opera house impresses everyone with its contemporary assemblage of overlapping shells and sails. Being a UNESCO World Heritage site, this opera house hosts various forms of performing arts, including opera, plays, organ concerts, ballet and many others.
Teatro La Fenice, Venice
This fantastic and dramatic opera house is known to reflect its name. Having survived two fires, this opera house ‘has risen from the ashes’ and continues to impress the audience with world-acclaimed operas. Operas from respected composers, such as Rossini, Verdi and Bellini were premiered in this theatre. Pastel blue colour scheme in combination with golden ornaments and chandeliers provide a magnificent atmosphere for spectators.
Estates Theatre, Prague
Estates Theatre is another beautiful opera house with a focus on a blue colour scheme. Offering a sophisticated décor, this theatre saw a premier of Mozart’s famous Don Giovanni, conducted by the master himself in 1787. Moreover, scenes from the Oscar-winning Amadeus were shot at Estates Theatre. The other famous artists who performed at this opera house include conductors, such as Carl Maria von Weber, Rubinstein, Gustav Mahler and Carl Goldmark, an opera singer Angelica Catalani, a violinist Niccolò Paganini and many more.
Royal Opera House, London
Royal Opera House in Covent Garden consists of four tiers of boxes and balconies and the amphitheatre gallery. It also has a charming restaurant and champagne bar in the so-called ‘floral hall’, which used to be a flower market in the past. The hall is surrounded by ceiling-to-floor windows and a glass roof and is a main public area of the opera house. George Handel saw premiers of his operas performed there. He also wrote some of the oratorios specifically for this opera house. Being a home for the Royal Opera, Royal Ballet and the Orchestra of Royal Opera House, the theatre hosts the most famous operas and ballet concerts as well as some dancing competitions.
Teatro di San Carlo, Naples
Being the oldest working opera house in the world, Teatro Di San Carlo keeps striking the audience with its red-and-gold interior and fascinating fresco on the ceiling, which depicts Apollo presenting the greatest poets to Minerva. As this opera house was built in Europe’s most prominent musical city, Naples, it has seen the best Italian opera singers and composers as well as foreign stars of the opera. Rossini had his most famous operas premiered on Teatro di San Carlo’s stage.
Mariinsky Theatre, Saint Petersburg, Russia
This opera house is a pearl of St Petersburg’s cultural world. Its turquoise, silver, and gold elements provide a soft and luscious interior. The name of the opera house has seen 5 changes since its opening in 1860 and was named after Empress Maria Alexandrovna. Same as The Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, Mariinsky Theatre mainly presents Classical Russian operas and ballet performances by such Russian composers as Mussorgsky, Tchaikovskii, Prokofiev, and Khachaturian.
Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires
The present theatre was opened in 1908 after 20 years of renovations, replacing the original one which had been operating since 1857. Teatro Colón is proud to have a great acoustics, one of the top five in the world. It also has got impressive departments of costume production and scenic construction.
Paris Opéra, Paris
Being the main opera company in France, Paris Opéra presents about 380 performances annually, including opera, symphonic concerts, ballet and other programmes. This opera house is beautifully ornamented and strikes with Belle Époque baroque style. Its luxurious interior was made possible through a constant support and protection from French state. Once a year, the opera house sees a gracious parade of the whole crew as well as artists of the Paris Opéra Ballet.
The Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow
Once imperial property, The Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow is one of the oldest companies in the world. Its magnificent neoclassic exterior with a statue of Apollo impresses and intrigues the visitors. The interior of this opera house is a reflection of royalty with ruby silk damask walls, plush velvet armchairs, white boxes and gold leaf ornaments. The company includes both, opera and ballet. The Bolshoi specialises in Russian classics with operas from Glinka, Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov. The ballet company is known to be the biggest and most renowned ballets in the world, introducing from 2 to 4 new productions each year.
Wien Staatsoper, Vienna
Known to be one of the most stunning opera houses, Wien Straatsoper is a work of architectural and decorative art. Various sculptures, tapestries, frescoes and paintings bring a lavish touch to its interior. This opera house is known to be one of the leading producing companies, presenting around 60 new operas each year. Famous Opera Ball is held in February every year, transforming the opera house into a grandeur ballroom hall with orchestra from Vienna Philharmonic.
La Scala, Milan
Probably the most famous and glorious opera house in the world, La Scala was originally lit up with thousands of oil lamps which provided an intimate and theatrical atmosphere. Known to have a perfect acoustics, this opera house is recognised to be the leading opera and ballet theatres around the globe. It’s home of Bellini, Verdi, Donizetti, and Rossini. La Scala Theatre Museum holds a valuable collection of costumes, masks, statues, paintings, photographs and drafts which reflect it’s incredibly rich history.