Mumbai’s Royal Opera House opened this week after a gap of 43 years to the public – and it was a sight to behold! The opulence of India’s only opera house got us wondering about some similar places around the world, where we could similarly experience the lavish grandeur of catching a performance and feeling one with the audience. The best part? Most opera houses are attractions in themselves and allow you to visit them even when shows are not being staged. All you have to do is pack your bags and get lost in some of the best-designed buildings around the world.
Royal Opera House, London
Patrons of the arts have been flocking to London’s Royal Opera House since 1732. The rich history of the place combined with the grand architecture make this one of the most visited places for art lovers around the world. The place also lends its name to its Mumbai sister. Today, it is known as venue for the BAFTA awards.
Vienna State Opera, Vienna
The Vienna State Opera is a sight to behold, especially at night when it lights up the entire square on which it is situated. Inside, its Neo-Renaissance era architecture is equally enchanting with its famed marble staircase and careful attention to every detail. The internationally renowned Vienna Opera Ball also takes place here. Last year, the opera became the first to screen the IMAX premiere of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.
Teatro Alla Scala, Milan
This opera house is named after Church of Santa Maria alla Scala that was razed to make the grand Teatro Alla Scala. Austria’s Empress Maria Theresa founded the opera in Milan with the first show premiering in 1778. Over the years, names like Guiseppe Verdi found fame here while the opera house itself is such a popular attraction that tickets sell out the day they open for sale.
Palais Garnier, Paris
The highlight of Paris’ ninth arrondisement, Palais Garnier was an integral part of the city’s redesign when it came up in 1875. The sculptures outside – depicting harmony, poetry and music – are watched over by bronze busts of composers such as Beethoven, Mozart and Rossini. Once inside, you are bound to be left speechless at the sheer richness of the auditorium which the Ballet de l’Opera National de Paris calls its official home.
Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow
The Bolshoi Theatre, Russia’s largest and oldest theatre, is mired in local history. From its famous Soviet gold curtain to hosting Lenin’s last public speech, the Bolshoi Theatre can captivate you with enchanting tales. And that’s only if the rich tapestries, carefully decorated balconies and crystal chandeliers don’t sway you first. Of course, the Bolshoi Opera and Bolshoi Ballet, which call this place their home, are already world-famous. Everything said and done, you will find it difficult to find a more beautiful building in all of Russia.
Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires
Far-off Argentina is often in the news for all the wrong economic reasons but everything that is wrong with the South American country fades into the background once you reach the spectacular Teatro Colon, built in 1908. Ranked as one of the five best concert houses in the world, it is most famous for being described by Luciano Pavarotti as a theatre where the only flaw that its acoustics were so perfect that audiences could hear even if a singer made the slightest mistake. Suffice to say, Teatro Colon is a major landmark of Argentina’s capital city.
Estates Theatre, Prague
The wonderful city of Prague is made even more beautiful with Estates Theatre, the defining place to catch up on ballet, classical music and drama performances in the Czech Republic. The theatre has welcomed Italian, French and German artistes and legend has it that Mozart performed his famous piece Don Giovanni here in 1787, preferring the Estates Theatre over Vienna’s opera house. In 1834, the first Czech opera played the song Where Is My Home that later became the country’s national anthem. With so much history and fascinating interior design, a visit to the Estates Theatre should be high on your list.
Margravial Opera House, Germany
It is worth making the effort getting to the little-known German city of Beyrouth simply to feast your eyes on the gorgeous Margravial Opera House. Far from the madding crowds of other opera houses on our list, Beyrouth’s opera house is one of the oldest in the world. The site is protected under UNESCO’s World Heritage list and is currently undergoing renovations, so don’t be in too much of a hurry to get there.
Sydney Opera House
Sydney’s Opera House is easily the most famous in the world with its stunning location along the Sydney Harbour. The opera house is a multi-performance venue that attracts over a million art patrons each year. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A guided tour of the opera house is often the main attraction for anyone visiting Sydney. Inside, the Concert Hall and Joan Sutherland theatre are a throwback to opera houses of yore. The performance venue is also the inspiration for the Lotus temple in Delhi. The latest update? The opera house is about to turn golden to mark Diwali celebrations in Australia.
Tired of all the old architecture? How about a spanking new opera complex built at a cost of $600 million, completed in 2002, and shaped like a giant durian? Yep, Singapore’s Esplanade is not for history fans. Rather, it is an attempt by the ultra-sanitised state to up its art quotient in a very contemporary. Its spiky domes take almost two months to clean and are designed to let natural light into the foyer area while keeping the heat out.
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