Modern opera houses in Europe

by Eche Egbuonu
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Modern opera has come a long way since 1902 where the very first show of its kind, Pelleas et Melisande, was performed. One of the more obvious changes is the adoption of cost efficient production methods by opera houses. But these are nothing compared to the changes in where these operas are performed. 

The 21st century saw the construction of many innovative opera houses, and opera enthusiasts along with fans of modern architecture will enjoy the following guide for a leading art and design getaway in Europe.

Oslo Opera House

The Oslo Opera House opened in April 2008 and serves as home to the country's national opera theatre comapny. Approximately 1370 visitors can fit in this unique structure which features traditional stalls as well as three balconies. Optimum acoustics are achieved by the clever use of materials and geometry. The back walls on each floor are constructed with convex panes to prevent sound concentration and ensure an even distribution of sound throughout the room. This in turn enhances the quality of your theatre experience, which will ultimately shape your special city break in Oslo.

The angled outer wall surfaces of the structure are enveloped with white granite and Italian sandstone which present the illusion the building is rising out of the water. The Opera House won the Mies van der Rohe award (the EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture) in 2009, a prestigious honour that suggests the structure is a great feat in modern architecture. Visit the Oslo Opera House as part of your leading architecture getaway in Norway.

Opéra Bastille

This modern opera house in Paris is home to the Paris Opera. It was created with the intention of being an alternative to the aristocratic Palais Garnier. The building itself is an impressive construction that combines smooth black sandstone, glass and concrete to create a polished and modern structure.

The spacious 2700 seating edifice came about after French president François Mitterrand created a competition where the winning architect would build a modern venue to share classical music with the masses.

One of the more prominent features of the Opera Bastille is a stage capable of prompt assembly and disassembly. Opera Bastille employs modern methods and equipment to make the jobs of stage hands, performers and directors easier while providing the public with excellent views of the performance area. Visit Opera Bastille during your special city break in Paris.

While in Paris you should stay at Les Jardins du Marais, a boutique hotel situated in the city centre. Luxury amenities and friendly staff will ensure that you take pleasure in the best city getaway in France.

Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia

This building opened in 2005 and is fitted with some of the most sophisticated technologies ever to grace such an avant-garde space. The Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia is a magnificent opera house in Valencia, Spain. This fine opera house is the final structure built for the City of Arts and Sciences entertainment complex. This ambitious project has placed Valencia in a great position for cultural exploration and architectural marvels.

The structure was created by the award-winning architect Santiago Calatrava and is symbolic of Valencia’s history. Calatrava describes it as “a representation of the correlation between spectator, musician and artist".

The most striking features are the two thin sheaths that envelop the oval base, like a ribbon blown upward by the wind. Calatrava's ground-breaking design enables spectators to view rehearsals through glass panes and enjoy the view from the opera house’s deck which resembles the interior of a ship. The maritime theme ties in well with the placement of the structure in the Turia riverbank and its proximity to the sea. This brilliant opera house should be visited as part of any special weekend holiday in Spain.

Wales Millennium Centre

Nicknamed “The Armadillo,” this impressive structure situated near Cardiff Bay is an ideal destination to watch renowned modern opera performances. The centre was officially inaugurated in November 2004 and the main auditorium has been specially designed to deliver a rich and engaging acoustic experience.

One of the more noteworthy characteristics of this structure is the inscription by Welsh author Gwyneth Lewis. The words “In These Stones Horizons Sing” are etched into the building’s exterior in both Welsh and English, paying homage to classic Roman architecture. Make sure you catch a modern opera at the Wales Millennium Centre during your leading weekend break in Wales.

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