We love the theater. We love the performances, the songs, the stage direction, the energy a live performance brings. Mostly though, we love the theaters themselves. Big elaborate buildings with ornate ceilings, comfortable seats and plush curtains that fall when we are standing to give our ovations.
It is in this spirit that we feel we should introduce you to the best, must see theaters the world has to offer.
1. Shakespeare Globe Theatre
Set in London, this theater was built by the Elizabethan company that Shakespeare led way back when. Originally named the Globe Theatre, the first building to have the name was built in 1599. Yet, as is the case with many old theaters, a fire tore the original building down in 1613 and the next year a new one was rebuilt.
Originally housing three thousand people, the modern building only holds fourteen hundred seats. This is due to safety requirements that have been realized over the years since 1614.
Still, it wasn’t until the year 1970 when Sam Wanamaker, actor and director, led the creation of what is now known as the Shakespeare Globe Trust and the International Shakespeare Globe Center. Wanamaker’s vision was to recreate the type of theatre that would have been in existence at the time of William Shakespeare. It opened officially in 1997.
Today, the Globe Theatre hosts visitors from all over the world. Only standing a short distance from where the original theatre from 1599 was built, this theatre not only has the main theater but smaller performing rooms like the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse to go along with the theme.
There you can view a Shakespeare play every day. The company takes tours but at the location itself you can dine, watch a play, attend a lecture or attend the many courses offered on Shakespeare and in theatre itself.
If you choose to visit this theatre, there are so many events it would difficult to just pick one. There are guides to take you through the Globe Theatre with tales of Shakespeare’s time, stories of the reconstruction that happened in the 1990s. These tours are offered in an array of languages.
Also, since it is adjacent to the Thames, there are also Bankside Tours, which begin at the Globe and go through the background of the Bankside Theater District, which was prominent in the time of Shakespeare. It even goes as far back as the Rose Theatre, which was built in 1587 and has been excavated by archaeologists in 1989. It is the only Elizabethan playhouse to go under such a dig.
This theater is rather unique in that it has a floating stage. It is an amphitheater with seven thousand seats and does not have a roof. The stage sits above the water of Lake Constance on the shores of Bregenz, Austria. Predominantly this theater is open for a performing arts festival in that area titled the Bregenz Festival.
The festival was founded after World War II and the floating stage typically hoses operas from the popular repertoire. Yet the settings that are built tend to be extravagant and grand in their design. They even use the water as part of the stage.
Recent operas and musicals that have been performed at the Seebühne include Aida by Giuseppe Verdi, Tosca by Giacomo Puccini, Il trovatore by Verdi, West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein, La bohéme by Puccini and Ein Maskenball (Un ballo in maschera) by Verdi.
Along with this stage the Bregenz Festival has other theaters including the Festspielhaus, where they hold productions of rare operas, the Werkstattbühne, which focuses on more contemporary opera and musical theater, Theatre am Kornmarkt, a place that houses drama performances and operettas and shed8/Theater Kosmos, a stage to view drama and performances that cross many cultures.
While the Seebühne is the focus of this article, if it weren’t for the festival that created it, this massive floating stage would not exist. It all started in 1946 when the first Bregenz Festival was held and it drew in crowds from Germany, Switzerland and France to take in some culture. This first festival had two floating stages created from barges. One housed the Vienna Symphony Orchestra while the other carried stage assemblies.
The Seebühne was highlighted in the James Bond movie Quantam of Solace when they performed the Puccini opera Tosca. Also, in June of 2008 the ZDF, a German broadcasting company, used the floating stage as the home for its live broadcast studio during the 2008 European Football Championship.
3. Teatro Real de Madrid
This theatre, which is the considered one of the most prestigious cultural locations in all of Spain, still sits on the location that it first housed in 1738, when King Philip V ruled and the Real Teatro de los Caños del Peral opened with a production of the opera Demetrio. Yet it was in 1817 when King Fernando VII ordered a Royal Decree that construction of a new opera house begin in same spot as the Real Teatro de los Caños del Peral. They began construction the next year but due to a lack of funds and the architect’s death the final building was not completed until 1850.
From then it was not smooth sailing. The revolution of 1868 forced Queen Isabel II into exile and it became known as the Teatro Nacional de la Ópera. In 1925 the building suffered a collapse the theater was force to shut its doors. Forty years later in 1966 the Teatro Real opened again but only as a concert hall primarily for the Spanish National Orchestra. It would stay that way until the eighties. At this time the idea to turn the theatre into an opera house became a reality. It would not be finished until 1997. All of the history and changes that the Teatro Real overcame prompted the Ministry of Culture to declare the theatre a building of cultural interest and proclaimed it a monument in 1993.
Since then the Teatro Real de Madrid has served as the debut home of many operas including Don Quijote by Cristóbal Halffter, La Señorita Cristina by Luis de Pablo and Dulcinea by Mauricio Sotelo. This theater stands by its vision of having a “self-governing, permanent and professional management style.” Today the compound boasts a conference room, exhibition hall, group dressing rooms for more than three hundred, eleven individual dressing rooms, a large rehearsal space and nearly thirty-five hundred meters squared of workshops and storage space. It currently seats seventeen hundred and fifty audience members.
4. The Castle Baroque Theatre
Our next theater on the list is located in Český Krumlov, a city in the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic. It is considered to be of great importance globally in the realm of architecture and culture. Not only is it one of the most ancient theatres to still be in existence in Central Europe. It is also the most fully well-kept decorative theater the world has today.
Besides the building being preserved as well as it is, The Castle Baroque Theatre, boasts that “the torso of the stage machinery and…the theatre inventory” are originals as well. This theater has been kept in its original form almost completely. The building that stands today was built in 1682 along with the equipment, the auditorium, paintings on the walls and the inventory. All of it dates back to the eighteenth century.
In 1682 Prince Johan Kristián of Eggenberg decreed the construction of the building and it began with the plans of Jakub de Maggi and Pietro Spinetta. After completion works from the likes of Lope de Vega, William Shakespeare, Moliere, Jean Racine, Calderon de la Barca and Pierre Corneille became a part of their repertoire.
In 1966 restoration began on the theater building and the inventory. Today the restoration continues and the building is a work in progress. Yet, the public was able to visit the theater once again in 1997.
When visiting The Castle Baroque Theatre one will find a completely useful theater and museum. The room holds the original wood benches and beautiful baroque painting, the pit for the orchestra with a unique two-sided music stand for the orchestra.
It is called The Castle Baroque Theater because it sits among the structure of was once a grand castle for royalty. There is the Little Castle attached to the Castle tower. These two structures are the oldest portion of the compound of buildings. There are guided tours and a museum for visitor to learn about the rich history of this compound, the theater and the history of Český Krumlov.
5. Sydney Opera House
Probably one of the most recognizable structures in the world this theater’s construction was finalized in 1973. The design and erection has garnered acclaim from the world and it is even more beautiful due to its proximity to the harbor on Bennelong Point. Whether you are on a boat, on land or in the air, the structure is just as iconic and remarkable.
The beginning of construction of the Sydney Opera House began in 1957 and took nearly twenty years to complete. It is considered a “masterpiece of modern architectural design, engineering and construction technology.” Danish architect Jørn Utzon won a Pritzker Prize. Yet the construction of this theater was not without its own polemics.
It took four years for the team to decide how to create the iconic sails we know today. Now, The Sydney Opera House exemplifies the Australian image to many people around the world. It houses many venues for multiple performances. It has more than fifteen hundred shows a year and boasts more than eight million visitors every year. The companies that perform there annually include Opera Australia, The Austrian Ballet, the Sydney Theatre Company and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
After a lengthy construction the total cost for the Sydney Opera house came to more than one hundred million dollars with more than twelve million on the roof shells alone. The projected budget for the theater in 1957 was a mere seven million dollars, which means that the final bill was over the original financial plan by nearly fifteen hundred percent. It also took ten years longer to complete than they originally planned.
These are just a few of the must see theaters – watch here the a few must see plays, show and performances from around the world!