The Most Beautiful Opera Houses in the World

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Rising from the Oslofjord inlet like an iceberg is the Oslo Opera House. Co.Design recently wrote about a faceted wall installation inside the modern performance space created by Danish-Icelandic artist, Olafur Eliasson. Glowing walls line the foyer, adding a striking effect. We felt inspired by the design and went searching for some of the most beautiful opera houses in the world. These grandiose venues conjure the drama, history, and craft associated with the art form. Take a trip around the world in our gallery, where we’ve selected 15 of the most stunning spaces for opera aficionados and architecture/design lovers.

Photo credit: David Leventi

Palais Garnier — Paris

Charles Garnier created the opulent real-life setting of Gaston Leroux’s 1911 novel, The Phantom of the Opera.

Photo credit: David Leventi

Metropolitan Opera — New York City

The Lincoln Center lobby features two murals by Marc Chagall, The Triumph of Music and The Sources of Music.

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Sydney Opera House — Sydney

Construction on the distinctive opera house was completed in 1973. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Photo credit: David Leventi

La Scala — Milan

Over 230 years old, La Scala was originally lit with more than a thousand oil lamps. Hundreds of buckets filled with water were kept on hand in case of a fire.

Photo credit: Adam Mørk

Copenhagen Opera House — Copenhagen

Construction on the Copenhagen Opera House ranks as one of the most expensive in the world — over $500 million for the modern building.

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Bolshoi Theatre — Moscow

The Bolshoi is one of the oldest companies in the world, founded in 1776.

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Royal Opera House — London

George Frideric Handel wrote several operas specifically for the Covent Garden house.

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Teatro Colón — Buenos Aires

The Colón has some of the best acoustics in the world.

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Mariinsky Theatre — Saint Petersburg

The name of the 1860 theater has changed five times (a reflection of politics). The building was originally called the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre.

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Teatro di San Carlo — Naples

Founded by the Bourbon King Charles VII, the Teatro is the oldest continuously active opera venue in Europe.

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L’Opéra Royal de Versailles — Versailles

The French opera house is built entirely of wood and painted to look like marble and stone in areas.

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Margravial Opera House — Bayreuth, Germany

Richard Wagner admired the opera house’s stage design before building his theater, Bayreuth Festspielhaus, nearby.

Photo credit: David Leventi

Drottningholm Palace Theatre — Stockholm

Opened in 1766, the intact baroque theater has its original features and stage machinery — including a wave machine, thunder machine, and flying chair (lowers people to the stage). They are still used in productions.

Photo credit: Jorge Royan

Estates Theatre — Prague

Milos Forman shot scenes of Mozart in Prague at the Estates to add an air of authenticity to his 1984 film, Amadeus. The real Mozart conducted the world premiere of his Don Giovanni at the Estates in 1787. The opera house is the only existing location where Mozart performed.

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Hungarian State Opera House — Budapest

The opera house was designed by well-known architect Miklós Ybl, and its double grand staircase is one of its most striking features.