From time to time in this blog, we like to introduce the readers to different theaters around the world. It would take a great deal of money to visit them all and we realize that this bucket list entry is only attainable by some. If you don’t have the funds to tour the globe in search of the best locations to experience the opera and ballet never fear.
That’s why we are here. In this spirit, we would like to start our next list of amazing world theaters.
1. Teatro di San Carlo
Our first theater, located in Naples, Italy, first came to be under the Bourbon King, Charles III. This theater was designed by Giovanni Antonio Medrano and is united with the Royal Palace of Naples. The palace served as home to the Bourbon Kings, which should not be associated with Kentucky whiskey. The Bourbon Kings were French monarchs who once governed areas of Italy including Naples and Sicily.
Currently, the Teatro di San Carlo has been consistently hosting operas longer than any other theater in the world. Opening its doors in 1737 this Bourbon dynasty inspired theater was the place to be when it came to opera. Epochs later other prominent theaters would rise but the Teatro di San Carlo maintained operations since its opening only stopping briefly to rebuild after a fire in 1816 and a few renovations.
Another key feature is the horseshoe shaped auditorium which is the oldest found in the world as well. As opera buffs, it is understandable why the Teatro di San Carlo would hit the top slot on our list today. The history behind the building plus the prominent compositions they once staged including works by Verdi and Rossini.
2. Royal Opera House
We’ll stop in London for our next theater, which is part of a larger area in this British metropolis called Covent Garden. First erected in 1732 it was first titled the Theatre Royal and two years later they staged their first ballet, Pygmalion. As is the way with theaters, the existing building is number three in a line of constructions that were destroy by fires in the start and mid-1800s.
There are only a few elements left of the 1858 reconstruction following the building’s second fire. Much of the theater standing today was built in the late 20th century. It is the third largest auditorium in London and seats over 2,200 audience members. The large building, known as “Covent Garden”, is host to The Royal Ballet, The Royal Opera, and the Royal Opera House Orchestra.
Edward Shepherd designed the first building to serve as a theater in this spot, which once housed an actual covent garden, in the mid-1700s. Today the compound includes Paul Hamlyn Hall, which is also known as “floral hall” is recognizable by the large glass and iron front that set it apart from the main opera house. There is also Linbury Studio Theatre, which serves as a minor performing stage and sits underground. This smaller space seats less than five hundred and can be used to host private events.
3. China’s National Centre for the Performing Arts
This unique building and its curved design have earned it the nickname “The Giant Egg.” Located in Beijing, the construct is an ellipsoid, which means shaped to signify an ellipse in a plane. Built from titanium and glass the dome building is in the center of a synthetic body of water.
The opera house was designed by Paul Andreu, an architect from France, and seats almost 5,500 people. A newer venue on our list, this Performing Arts Center first broke ground in 2001 and opened its doors six years later. The design is meant to look like a floating egg or a drop of water but there is no denying this building is one of a kind.
This theater is near Tiananmen Square, another site of great significance in Chinese history. Other sites located near the Performing Arts Center are the Great Hall of the People and the Ming dynasty’s Forbidden City. Another interesting fact is that maintaining the cleanliness of the outside of the egg-shaped building runs into the millions.
4. Gran Teatro de La Habana Alicia Alonso
With the recent death of Fidel Castro, we thought we could look at a theater in a part of the world that may not be synonymous with ballet and opera, yet the culture is strong with artistic achievements as great as any other. Construction of theaters seems to be one of their specialties.
The Gran Teatro de La Habana Alicia Alonso is as grand a building anyone would find in Europe, the home of the art forms it hosts. It is located in Havana in the Paseo del Prado, an important street that divides the city. The building that hosts the Gran Teatro has its own name, the Galician Centre, because it was erected for Galician immigrants to socialize. Galicians immigrated from the Iberian Peninsula.
The Cuban National Ballet calls the Gran Teatro home and it is here where Havana hosts its International Ballet Festival, typically held every other year since 1960. Besides an opera house, this performing arts center houses a choral center, an art gallery, a concert hall, theaters, and rehearsal spaces.
5. La Monnaie
This theater goes all the way back before Napoleon Bonaparte. It was in 1695 when successful banker and theater owner Gio Paolo Bombarda insisted that the city needed a wonderful venue. He felt this theater should be open to the public and it was built by the turn of the century.
Napoleon ordered a reconstruction a century later and a new building was inaugurated. Twenty-one years later this new theater would play an imperative role when Belgium fought for freedom and liberation by showing The Mute of Portici, an Auber opera that was once prohibited.
In 1853 La Monnaie was restricted to only opera and ballet performances. Two years later building burned severely. There were only a few remnants of the old theater left standing. The Belgians moved quickly and a new building was inaugurated the next year. In 1998 they celebrated the three-hundredth anniversary. Many greats have danced and sang at La Monnaie including Sergei Prokofiev’s premiere of Igrok in 1929.
6. Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux
Opening in 1780, this theater is one of the most prestigious that France has to offer. Renowned ballet master Marius Petipa produced some of his first works here among other prestigious artists.
The wooden frame that is one of the oldest in Europe because most others have burned down. The building is considered a neoclassical masterpiece with a spectacular façade housing twelve Corinthian columns, each holding up statues of mythical entities.
These goddesses and muses guard the entrance of the Grand Théâtre to ensure that all entrants and goings on in that building exemplify the importance of artistic endeavors and discoveries. Once you pass them the fleur-de-lis, or French lily, adorns a coat of arms in portico. Inside there are mores sculptures to view, paintings on the ceiling, and giant staircases.
Check out some other great things to do in Bordeaux!