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Top 5 Opera Houses in Europe

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Check out our “Top 5″ opera theaters in Europe:

1. Teatro di San Carlo

Taking a trip to Italy for their majestic opera house in Naples is not to be missed. As the oldest in Italy and one of the largest in Europe, San Carlo is a true sight to be seen. The theater was amazingly built in only half a year in 1737 and is famous for its fabulous acoustics, especially considering it’s so big. It might be one of the biggest and most famous but San Carlo is a little more than just an opera house. It’s famous for having some quite vocal members of the audience on stage, but then this is where opera is most at home so it can be forgiven. If you want somewhere more regal and well behaved then head north to La Scala in Milan but if you want more of an experience then this is your best bet.

2. Gran Teatre del Liceu

The location this time is Barcelona in Spain and the Gran Teatre del Liceu is one of the finest in the whole country. Build in the 19th Century, it’s not one of the oldest in Europe but certainly one of the most exclusive in terms of performances. It’s huge too and after La Scala it’s the second largest in Europe. It has been the stomping ground for many of the greatest opera singers in modern theater and once housed a certain Jose Carreras in his younger days.

3. Wurttemberg State Theater

If the prize was for the most beautiful building then the home of the Stuttgart State Opera would be in the lead. Like many of the opera houses above and around Europe, the Second World War seemed to hit this theater hard. It was rebuilt after the war but the original building was completed in 1912 by architect Max Littmann. It’s one of the more recognizable of theaters, as the classical columns prop up the curved stone building which overlooks a beautiful lake. It seats 1400 people and is well rehearsed in putting on some, if not all, of the biggest operatic shows in Germany.

4. Prague Estates Theater

This neo classical theater in the Czech capital of Prague is famous for being the venue where a certain Amadeus Mozart first conducted a performance of his opus Don Giovanni. Since then it’s gone from strength to strength and cemented itself both in its own country and across Europe as being the best place to experience Mozart’s operas in the venue he loved so dearly.

5. Glyndebourne

It doesn’t come more bourgeoisie than Glyndebourne, UK. If you thought opera was just for the higher classes then…you’d be pretty much right if you went on an evening out to the famous East Sussex opera theater. Nestling in the dainty English countryside is the 700-year-old country house that now hosts a regular capacity of some 1,200 opera lovers. The building has been given a big make-over over the last twenty years and in 1992 it opened its doors to a new incredible £34 million theater. A lot of the money came from a great number of private donors so sadly they take priority over many of the seats. But for those who feel they own the right attire (black tie and evening dress) then it annually hosts he Glyndebourne Festival Opera and is more of an institution and experience now than your average opera house.

Photo of Prague Opera House originally posted by Tom Scamardo

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About the author

Venere Travel Blog writer phil mcdonald

Phil is a freelance writer working on various writing and editing projects ranging from feature film scripts to travel writing. He enjoys writing from experience and sharing information on the many places he has visited over the years

10 responses to “Top 5 Opera Houses in Europe”

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  1. Hiep says:
    November 27th, 2008 at 06:48

    May I ask you why you did not list La Scala? I thought it is the best known opera house in Italy?

  2. phil mcdonald says:
    December 12th, 2008 at 12:35

    I mentioned it a few times but wanted to list the less obvious ones, such as the Teatro di San Carlo.

  3. Daniella says:
    May 21st, 2009 at 17:26

    You are fully wrong.

  4. roberto says:
    August 3rd, 2009 at 15:17

    “May I ask you why you did not list La Scala? I thought it is the best known opera house in Italy?”

    And you think wrong.
    Theater San Carlo is the most ancient and the most beautiful theater in italy, and one of the greatest in Europe.
    Is not me to say that but the history.
    When Naples was the third european capital after London and Paris, Milan was a very normal city in the north of italy occupied by Austrians.La Scala is obviously a great theater but his importance his due to the decadence of Naples and of South of Italy since the Unità d’Italia in 1860.And don’t forgive The Maximum of Palerm, the first theater in Italy for size and the third in Europe.
    In this case La Scala must be only the third Theater in Italy for importance, maybe.

  5. Sasha T. says:
    December 8th, 2009 at 23:08

    Did you see the Opera house in Odessa,Ukraine?Incredible!!!Find picteres in Internet!!

  6. Daniel Goodfellow says:
    February 13th, 2010 at 19:43

    The theatre pictured is the National Theatre, Prague (commonly referred to as the Prague Opera House). The Estates Theatre Prague is a totally different venue (also beautiful but very different).

  7. Gerhart Wiesend says:
    October 29th, 2011 at 00:03

    Lisbon´s Sao Carlos is a magnificent opera house. Their orchestra is one of the best in Europe.

  8. J-L B says:
    February 2nd, 2012 at 08:17

    Teatro di San Carlo was totally destroyed by fire. The one we see is a copy, built in the 19th century.

    France has 3 Opera houses that go back to the second half of the 18th century. None of them is in Paris by the way.

  9. Gerhart Wiesend says:
    February 2nd, 2012 at 22:17

    The Prague National Theater (not Estates Theater) is a magnificent opera house, abounding in gold ornaments. It was built when Austria kept Prague occupied.
    The musical and theatrical standard is a good average, matched by many provincial theatres in Europe.
    One opera which is usually neglected is the Royal Opera in Stockholm, home of singers like Jussi Björling and Birgit Nilsson. Some of their singers are world class, like mezzo Maria Fontosh. Their orchestra is immaculate, like most Scandinavian orchestras. But who goes to Stockholm?
    Sometimes small theaters in Switzerland or Germany are much more creative than the great houses, whose policy is to employ star singers and to present inoffensive produtions.
    The best house in Europe is probably Bayreuth. No other opera regularly presents more top singers and musicians. Of course, you have to like Wagner, which I don´t.
    An undifferentiated list of the top five opera houses is problematic. So much depends on the production and the singers.

  10. ALFREDO says:
    April 3rd, 2013 at 06:04

    I wouldnt be surprised if the author of this note be american , as in usa you people have an automatism for thinking that anything cultural or technological and a fortiori when both combined must come from europe . And of course this automatism is so politically and culturally fully charged … But anybody knowlegdeable of opera and acoustics knows that the best opera house is not in Europe but in Buenos Aires Argentina with the Teatro Colon . Also i cant understand you dont mention the Grosser Musikvereinssaal in Viena wich is the next most serious competitor to the Colon or for some the n1. Of course you’ re writing about best european opera houses but it still seems very dificult to understand the omission of any mention of these two collossals .

    Phil , you got right here a perfect example of the very reason some idiots want to blow themselves up in your towers or scand yanks go home ..

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