Enjoy Opera in a Glorious European Opera House

11 February 2014

Opera has the incredible power to manipulate feelings, to take you on an emotional roller-coaster through passionate arias, rousing choruses and intimate duets. In Europe opera is very much part of the culture with mesmerising performing arts venues that are just as beautiful as the music that is created within them. As you next travel through Europe, consider attending a performance at one of these great Opera Houses.

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Palais Garnier, Paris

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Firmly entrenched into popular culture, courtesy of the Phantom of the Opera, Palais Garnier is Parisian indulgence at its most inspiring. The venue was named after its architect, Charles Garnier, who incorporated beaux-arts designs in his vision. After a construction period that took 14 years, the theatre formally opened in 1875 with an opulent gala performance that included extracts from Rossini's Guillaume Tell, Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots and Auber's La Muette de Portici.

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Royal Opera House, London

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While many travellers to London head directly to the musicals and plays presented in the Shaftsbury Ave theatres of the West End, just around the corner in Covent Garden is the Royal Opera House. This would have to be one of the most exquisitely beautiful venues for appreciating the art form of opera - the current building dates from 1858 but the complex as a whole enjoyed massive renovations during the 1990s.

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Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow

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When I saw a production of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin at the famed Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, I finally understood how Russian opera should be performed. It was glorious and triumphant - confident and fragile at the same time. I was in Russia in 2004, prior to the significant restoration process that saw the venue closed from 2005 and 2011. If I was mesmerised before the renovations, I can't wait to return to experience this tremendous venue now that the Bolshoi has reopened to even greater acclaim.

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Wiener Staatsoper, Vienna

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More than any other city in Europe, a visit to the Vienna State Opera seems obligatory for curious travellers determined to experience opera for the first time. Whether you're an opera newbie or a seasoned attendee, the opera productions at this important venue are sure to entertain - staged in repertory, an average of 50 individual productions are performed at the Wiener Staatsopera. The building, designed in a neo-renaissance style, was officially opened in 1869 but the structure required extensive reconstruction after World War II.

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Teatro di San Carlo, Naples

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Attending an Italian opera in Italy that's performed by Italians is an event that deserves to be treasured. One of the country's operatic delights is the venue in Naples that was built in 1737 but later rebuilt in 1817 after fire destroyed the original construction. As such the building is an architectural marvel in its own right. This is where Donizetti's canonical work, Lucia di Lammermoor had its premiere performance.

Lyndon Barnett

Guided by curiosity and a sense of adventure, Lyndon travelled independently to 69 countries on six continents. As such, travel is Lyndon's only addiction. He enjoys with equal measure - scaling the peaks of a South American mountain at altitude, attending opera in a European Opera House or hunting for a bargain in an Asian market.