Best Theater in Europe: A Guided Tour to the Best Venues
European composers have been writing and performing music for hundreds of years, so it would make sense that Europe is home to some of the world’s finest music halls. Located throughout the continent, these theaters are architectural masterpieces. Many theaters still function today. Seeing an opera performed in Europe is an experience to remember, and is no doubt one of the best ways to embrace the culture of any European country. Let’s take a closer look at some of the theaters that have endured for hundreds of years.
Our Favorites: The Best Theater in Europe
Semperoper, Dresden, Germany
The Semperoper in Dresden has a world wide reputation for being one of the finest opera houses ever built. The building itself is an absolute marvel, combining many European architectural styles. The Semperoper hosts performances every day during its peak season. While in Dresden this October, you can see many acts, including Don Giovanni, Hansel and Gretel, Macbeth, and Giselle. Ticket prices are affordable, but events held at the Semperoper are sure to sell out fast.
Wiener Staatsoper, Vienna, Austria
The Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera) is one of the oldest indoor performance theaters in the world, dating back to the beginning of the 18th century. The history of the building is filled with mystery and tragedy, as two of the original architects were killed during construction. Guided tours of this masterful building are available for €8. This price also includes admission to the Opera Museum, as well as the Austrian Theatre Museum, all in Vienna. Catch one of the many works being performed this season which include Faust, La Traviata, The Barber of Seville, and the Marriage of Figaro.
Verona Arena, Verona, Italy
Built nearly two thousand years ago in the style of a traditional Roman coliseum, the Verona Arena is still in use today. This impressive arena holds fifteen thousand people, and hosts a wide variety of acts. While the bulk of the performances are symphonies and operas, a many modern artists have performed here including The Who, Pearl Jam, and Simply Red. The opera season generally peaks in summer; with symphony and other performances in the fall and winter months. The Arena is one of Verona’s most magnificent structures, and offers a truly unique opportunity to view performances in such a historic venue.
Estates Theater, Prague, Czech Republic
The Estates Theater is generally viewed as one of the most beautiful theaters in Europe. The impressive balconies and chandelier give this theater a historic feel. The Estates Theater is probably best known for its connection to the famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It was at the Estates where Mozart first performed and conducted the opera Don Giovanni in 1787. This is a must see for fans of his work as it is the only theater still standing where he actually performed. This theater was even featured in the film about his life, Amadeus. Today, there are ballet, opera, and symphony performances at this historic venue. Truly a must see during your visit in Prague.
Royal Opera House, London, England
While many tourists head into London’s West End theater district for modern works, more traditional performances can be found at the Royal Opera House. Originally built as a playhouse in the early 1700’s, the theater was first rebuilt after fires in 1809, and in 1856. A complete renovation in the 1990’s has made this theater one of the more advanced theaters. The venue was improved with new office, backstage, and rehearsal space, as well as surtitles (projected translations) above the stage. The Royal Opera House currently hosts a wide variety of plays and operas, including Swan Lake, Don Goivanni, La Calisto, and Puccini’s La fanciulla del West.
Palais Garnier, Paris, France
While there is no shortage of theaters in this artful city, one of the more grandeur locations you can see a performance in Paris is the Palais Garnier. The massive stage can hold over 400 performers, and the chandelier in the center of the theater weighs over ten thousand pounds! Not bad for a theater that only seats 2,200. Many other theaters took the beautiful design as a blueprint once the impressive structure was completed in 1875. Greek mythological statues can be found on the outside of the theater, as well as the bronze busts of famous composers in between marble columns. This season check out one of the many performances, including Fidelio, Macbeth and The Magic Flute, while on vacation in Paris.
These beautiful halls are just a taste of what European theater has to offer. If you have experience in any of these halls or one not mentioned, feel free to leave a comment with a review.