Favourite operas hit a high note

Whether they’ve ever been to the opera or not, most people have marvelled at an opera house or two.

Throughout the world, opera houses are among the most gorgeous and significant buildings imaginable.

These are eight European masterpieces we’ve had the fortune to visit – and recommend:

Teatro Alla Scala (Milan, Italy)

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Photo: courtesy: Flickr O2ma

Empress Maria Theresa of Austria founded Milan’s legendary opera house in 1778.

It is an awesome building, perfectly in keeping with Milan’s reputation for class, quality and refinement.

Palais Garnier (Paris, France)

Paris Opera House

Probably the most famous opera house in the world, in no small part because of its setting for the novel and musical, Phantom of the Opera, this opulent building was a key part of the Paris of the Grand Boulevards, designed under Emperor Napoleon III.

It is now used mainly for ballet. We have been fortunate to visit several times. Don’t miss this one if you are visiting beautiful Paris.

Royal Opera House (London, England)

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Photo: courtesy Wikimedia Silktalk

An opera house has stood on the present location at Covent Garden since the early 18th century.

Designed in the English Baroque architectural style, the building’s façade, foyer, and auditorium date from 1858.

Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna, Austria)

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Copyright: Memorable Destination

Located in the centre of Vienna, this stately building was originally called the Court Opera.

In 1920, with the replacement of the Habsburg Monarchy by the First Republic of Austria, it was renamed the Vienna State Opera.

Members of the world famous Vienna Philharmonic are recruited from its orchestra. A tour of Wiener Staatsoper is a traditional highlight of a visit to Vienna.

Operaen (Copenhagen, Denmark)

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Copyright: Memorable Destination

Copenhagen Opera House is the national opera house of Denmark and among the most modern in the world.

It is said to have cost more than US$500 million and sits on the island of Holmen in central Copenhagen.

Staatsoper Unter den Linden (Berlin, Germany)

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Located on the Unter den Linden boulevard in the Mitte district of Berlin, this opera house originally dates to 1741.

Destroyed by bombing in World War II, it reopened in baroque style in 1955.

Teatro La Fenice (Venice, Italy)

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Photo: courtesy Wikimedia Remi Mathis

One of the most famous and renowned landmarks in the history of opera, this striking building marks the site of Venetian theatres that date back to the 1730’s.

In the 19th century especially, La Fenice became the site of many famous operatic premieres. It is one of the best known buildings in the beautiful city of Venice.

Státní opera (Prague, Czech Republic)

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Photo: courtesy Wikimedia AndreasPraefcke

Opened in 1888 as the New German Theatre, this building is now officially known as   the Prague State Opera.

About 300 performances are staged here each year.

Others

Other notable European opera houses that we haven’t visited include the Bolshoi in Moscow, Russia (shown below this paragraph); the Teatro Di San Carlo in Naples, Italy; the Opera Royal de Versailles in France; and the Hungarian State Opera House in Budapest.

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Photo: courtesy Wikimedia Dmitry Guryanov

Austria 1 Milan Vienna Opera House

Take a sneak peek at Weiner Staatsoper

If you are visiting Vienna, make sure you find time to visit the city’s grand opera house, which hosts  one of Europe’s most glittering social events each year.

In February, the internationally-renowned Vienna Opera Ball is  staged – an event that attracts visitors from around the world, notably prominent names in business, show-business and politics.

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The red carpet event, which is deemed the epitome of Ball culture, is more than years old.

However, you don’t need to attend the annual Ball to appreciate the magnificent Weiner Staatsoper, a 146-year-old building located on Vienna’s Ringstrasse Boulevard.

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We toured the building on our last visit – and were enthralled by the stately stone exterior and the neo-renaissance style inside.

A highlight of the interior is an area known as the Tea Salon, which was formerly the Emperor’s Salon.

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The ceiling and walls of the former Imperial Box are decorated with 22 carat gold leaf.

We were also shown sculptures, magnificent wall embroideries from the Giani studio, and tapestries bearing the initials of former Emperor Franz Joseph I.

The 120-metre intermission halls are also particularly striking and connect to frame the sweeping main staircase.

Originally called the Weiner Hofopen or Vienna Court Opera, the building was renamed in 1920 when the Hapsburg Monarchy gave way to the First Republic of Austria.

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Damaged by World War II bombing, the Staatsoper was rebuilt to its former glory by 1955.

We were told that the opera house is one of the busiest in the world, producing about 300 performances a year – broken down into 50 to 60 operas and 10 ballet shows.

The main performance hall holds 2,100 and there is a giant screen on an outside wall designed to bring opera to the masses outside. Weiner Staatsoper is also known for its emphasis on providing music theatre and training for children.

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Naturally, such a prestigious opera house has featured many big named, including appearances by Maria Callas, Christa Ludwig, Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti.

Vienna Vienna Opera House