La Scala, Milan, Italy
Milan’s Teatro alla Scala is perhaps the most famous opera house in the world, the one most associated with “opera.” Built in 1778 with four tiers with separate loges, it is the home of Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, and Verdi. One of La Scala’s most ingenious features is the concave channel under the wooden floor of the orchestra; this is credited with giving the theater superb acoustics.
Teatro di San Carlo, Naples, Italy
Built by King Charles of Bourbon and inaugurated in 1737, the magnificent red-and-gold theater is the world’s oldest working theater, and until La Scala, it was the most prestigious in Italy. Some of Gioachino Rossini’s most popular operas premiered on its stage.
Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Not to be outdone by wealthy U.S. industrialists, opera-loving Argentines completed the Teatro Colon in 1908. With so many architects involved, it is not surprising that the building incorporates a great many styles that are associated with European theaters.
This grand opera house’s outstanding record of great performances is matched only by the host of famous artists who have graced its stage. Teatro Colon has its own elaborate costume and scenic construction departments.
The Royal Opera House, London, England
An opera house has stood in the present location of the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden since the early 18th century; the current building is the third.
George Handel’s operas were the first ever to be performed here, and he wrote many of his operas and oratorios for this place in particular. From 1735 until his death in 1759 he gave regular seasonal performances here.
The Bolshoi, Moscow, Russia
One of Russia’s premier theaters, coupled with one of the best symphony orchestras in the world, the Bolshoi in Moscow has survived fire, war, and revolution. Its stunning neoclassic portico, topped by a statue of Apollo in his chariot, is a precursor to the magnificent splendor visitors will find when they venture inside. The Bolshoi closed in 2005 for extensive interior renovations and reopened in the fall of 2011.
Four balconies and a top gallery surround the orchestra, where the seats are Chippendale chairs upholstered in red damask. The great stage is known for its celebrated ballet company. Here, Yuri Grigorovich choreographed memorable productions of Swan Lake, The Golden Age, and Romanda.