If you’re a fan of music that’s especially long and complex, then there are few artforms more compelling than opera. An opera is the grandest and most elaborate stage for a composer to flex his musical muscles, and some of the most famous pieces of music in history are taken from larger operatic works. If you’ve ever been to a wedding, the chances are that you’ll have heard the bridal chorus from Wagner’s ‘Lohengrin’ and the wedding march from Mendelssohn’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.
Operatic works can last anywhere from a couple of hours to more than a dozen spaced over several days. If you’re a real fan of the art form, then you’ll want to visit some of it’s more illustrious venues. After all, there are some opera houses (and orchestras) which can really lift some works to their full, glorious potential. Let’s take a look at some of them.
The Royal Opera House, London
It’s worth starting with the opera house that’s closest to home. The Royal Opera House has been open in Covent Garden since the start of the 18th century, and is the latest of three buildings to assume the name. It’s seen the debuts of several giants of music history, including George Frederick Handel, who wrote many of his best-loved works with this venue specifically in mind.
Teatro alla Scala, Milan
La Scala in Milan is perhaps the most famous opera house in all the world. It comprises four separate tiers from which to view the action, and was built in 1778. Since then, a steady procession of huge names have called the venue home, including Rossini and Verdi.
Sydney Opera House, Sydney
The Sydney opera house is known more for its quirky exterior than the operas it hosts – in fact, if you’re not a regular concertgoer it’s easier to think of it as a landmark than as a music venue. And yet, a music venue is precisely what it is. If you’re fortunate enough to live in Australia or nearby New Zealand, you should consider a visit here obligatory. Emigrating to New Zealand from the UK is a popular move, and the same can be said of nearby New Zealand. If you’re considering making the switch down under, there are many jobs in New Zealand to choose from – so be sure to get looking.
Teatro Colon, Beunos Aires
This opera house was first put together just after the turn of the 20th century, in order to cater to the increasingly sophisticated demands of the argentine upper classes. The building itself is spectacular, incorporating the work of many architects, whom each draw upon many different styles found in European buildings. It regularly hosts some of the most famous names in opera, and boasts an impressive and elaborate costumer department.
Opéra Royal, Paris
When the palace of Versailles was first built, the area was just a small village. Nowadays, it’s a wealthy suburb or Paris. And like all wealthy suburbs, it provides a great deal of demand for quality opera. This demand is sated by the resident opera house, the Paris Opéra. The building’s exterior is spectacular, even by Parisian standards, and comes with an impressive dome that was completed in 1875. The theatre is suitable both for opera and ballet, and the interior as a whole is lavish and elaborate, and fit for a range of big occasions. If you’re an opera-lover and you’re staying in Paris, you should consider a visit to this site obligatory.
Lincoln Centre, New York
If you’re planning a trip across the Atlantic, then a visit to this impressive venue should be at the top of your list. It’s the home of some of the greatest musical performance groups in the world, including the metropolitan opera, the New York Philharmonic and the New York City Ballet. The venue is at the forefront of technical innovation; performances here are often recorded live and streamed across the world.
Margravial Opera House, Bayreuth
If you’re a fan of Richard Wagner, then you’ll at some point want to visit the Bayreuth festival, which every year runs through a gamut of very serious works by that most serious of operatic composers. The place is a Mecca for Wagnerians, having been conceived of by the man himself in the 1870s. The venue itself, the Markgräfliches Opernhaus, dates back to the Baroque period, and has been extensively restored to provide the ultimate experience for fans of Tristan und Isolde, Die Walküre, Parsifal, Götterdämmerung and a host of other favourites.