Theaters of all kinds decorate the globe from New York City, to Moscow, to Tokyo, and more, audiences all over the world head to theaters every weekend to catch Madama Butterfly or The Magic Flute. We would like to spend some time visiting these great theaters from around the world that we love.
1. Teatro Comunale di Bologna
Located in, you guessed it, Bologna, Italy, this first opera house on our list of loves was built when the local opera house, Teatro Malvezzi burned down after a century of entertaining the region. ‘First called Nuovo Teatro Pubblico, which means the New Public Theatre, first opened its doors to the public on May 14, 1763. Antonio Galli Bibiena was the designer of this new theater and it was the first major opera house to be built using monies from the public to pay for its construction.
The first performance at this new opera house was not by and Italian but rather a German composer Christoph Willibald Gluck who composed Il trionfo di Clelia, just for the occasion. Bibiena designed the auditorium to look like a bell and, for reasons we are unable to find, the front of the building remained unfinished. The boxes fill up four tiers including a royal box near a smaller portico with a ceiling panted to resemble the naked sky.
Wear, tear, weather, and fire have all caused a good deal of renovations be made on the Teatro Comunale di Bologna. In 1931 a good portion of the stage burned and it would remain closed for four years. This is when the bell shape was replaced with the traditional horse-shoe shape.
Many great composers premiered their works at this opera house, Rossini staged twenty works in the 19th century. Bellini staged ten in the late 1800s while Verdi and Wagner both showcased works here in 1871. There is no denying, in the world of European opera in the late 19th century, Teatro Comunale di Bologna was the place to be.
2. Theatre Royal de la Monnaie
For this next theater, we will set out for Brussels, a city in Belgium that boasts the best chocolates and beer the world has ever seen. Another thing they are known for are their theaters and this one, known simply as La Monnaie, is a must see. It was erected long before Napoleon Bonaparte ravaged the area when Gio Paolo Bombarda, a successful banker, felt that Brussels was in sore need of an extravagant theatre to showcase opera, ballet, and other arts performed at the time. Bombarda’s vision was a theater that would be available to all and by the turn of the 18th century his wish came true.
Yet, about one hundred years later, Napoleon came along and ordered that the old theatre by reconstructed. In 1819 it was inducted into the landscape of the Belgian city. In a strange turn of events, this theater would play a key role in the movement towards Belgium’s independence. At the staging of The Mute of Portici, which was originally banned, the revolution began and in 1831, Leopold I took his throne as the first King of the Belgians.
A little more than two decades after this, the La Monnaie was restricted to opera and ballet performances only. Two years after that, the opera house burned and not much of the theater Napoleon had constructed remained. Yet, not to be without their beloved theatre, one year later, a new theater was opening.
La Monnaie had its three hundredth birthday in 1998 and it was named a national institution. In 1929 it was the location of the premiered of Igrok by Sergei Prokofiev.
3. China’s National Centre for the Performing Arts
Known in the region as “The Giant Egg” this Beijing theater looks exactly as the name suggests. It is an ellipsoid, a structure build to resemble an ellipse on a plane. It is constructed from titanium and the glass reflects the artificial lake it sits next to. Currently the theater fits nearly 5,500 audience members and is nearly 12,000 square meters around. Paul Andreu, a French architect, designed this theater and building began at the beginning of this century. In 2007, six years after the foundation was laid, China’s National Centre for the Performing Arts had its first concert.
This theater is located just to the west of Tiananmen Square and the Great Hall of the People, and it is also near the Forbidden City, which was the imperial palace for nearly five hundred years from the Ming dynasty all the way through the Qing dynasty. Today, this modern design sits adjacent to some of the most ancient structures in the Chinese setting. There are three performance halls in the National Centre for the Performing Arts, which include the Opera Hall, used for operas, ballet, and other dances, the Music Hall, which is slightly smaller and used for recitals and concerts, and the Theatre Hall, which is a performance spot exclusively for the Beijing Opera and other plays.
Costing 2.688 billion yuan to build, which is nearly four hundred million U.S. dollars, this theatre far exceeded the projected costs especially after they had to stop construction after a terminal building in the Paris airport collapsed. This has been a bone of contention for some who feel the cost of the theater will never be repaid. When they averaged it out, each seat in this theater close 500,000 yuan to build.
Not only was the construction of this theater expensive, it is said the money spent annually on keeping the outside clean and reflective reaches into the millions.
4. Shakespeare Globe Theatre
The final theater on our loves list has the spot because we love William Shakespeare and the influence he had on the arts. London is the backdrop to this ancient building constructed by the Elizabethan company the Bard oversaw when he was writing his many works. Yet, back then he was not the name he is today and this building was simply known as the Globe Theatre. Its original construction was in 1599, yet it burned to nothing and in 1613 the company built another theater.
The first theatre had 3,000 seats, while the replacement only has 1,400. The reasoning was not only comfort but safety as well. This theater would remain the Globe Theatre for centuries until 1970 when a man by the name of Sam Wanamaker championed its resurrection as the Shakespeare Globe Theatre and the International Shakespeare Globe Center. Wanamaker wanted to recreate the same type of theater Shakespeare would have used when alive.
Opening as the Shakespeare Globe Theatre in 1997, this location has visitor daily from all over the globe. It is very near the location of the original theatre; it also has more than one stage. A smaller stage called the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse honors the man with the vision of preserving the history of this theater.
Every day they perform a Shakespeare play and the company also tours internationally. The Shakespeare Globe Theatre hosts a restaurant, classes on the Bard, lectures, and many specialized events.
Check out some more great theaters around the world here! The Magic Flute, pictured in the cover, was actually showing at Festspielhaus Baden-Baden during the Easter Festival of 2013. Watch it tonight!