Growing up my father used to blare opera in his car on his way to and from work. I’d always know when he was home as I heard his car rumble down the driveway with a woman “screaming” at the top of her lungs. Well, screaming is what I thought of opera when I was young… but lo and behold, the more I listened to it, and the more my dad educated me on the stories, the singing and more, the more I liked it.
Some of my most favorite memories of living in New York City was when my father came to town and took me to the Met. One evening we watched Rigoletto (the tragic father/daughter story with incredibly memorable music) and after the performance, dashed our way down to the West Village for a late dinner at an amazing French bistro. Another time we bought standing room only tickets for that evenings performance. We stood at the very top of the Met, the very last row, where the acoustics were amazing. We could hear everything as if we were in the front row!
I am blessed to still have my father sharing his love for opera with me and now my kids as well. Even when we travel, we tend to seek out the city’s opera house to see what might be playing and/or check out the iconic architecture of so many of these houses.
To celebrate this passion, I decided to illustrate opera houses from around the world. I started by drawing just a few of some of the most recognizable in the world.
Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia
Opened in October 1973, this shell shaped opera house located on the Sydney harbor is one of the 20th centuries most iconic buildings. With a long and complicated design and construction process in its past, this unique place has become one of the top performing arts centers in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.
Lincoln Center (The Met Opera), New York City
Opened in 1966, this modern style opera house has one of the most technologically advanced stages in the world – hydraulic elevators, motorized stages and rigging systems allow for complex productions to be performed. Two enormous murals painted by Marc Chagall grace the interior lobby, and can be seen from the exterior in Lincoln Center Plaza
Palais Garnier, Paris, France
Opened in January 1875, this opulent opera house designed by Charles Garnier is arguable one of the most famous opera houses in the world. The ornate exterior shines with gilded gold and copper statues of Apollo, Harmony and Poetry, while bronze busts of famous composers line the front facade.
Teatro Amazonas, Manaus, Brazil
Opened in December 1896, this Renaissance style opera house was built in the heart of the Amazon rainforest during the time of the rubber boom. Materials were imported from across the world in Alsace, Scotland, and Italy. The dome is covered with ceramic tiles brightly painted with colors from the Brazilian flag.
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London, England
Opened in 1858 after several disastorous fires, this is the third theatre to occupy this location. The first theatre on this site opened in 1734 with Handel’s first season of operas performed in 1735. This historic opera house has undergone many changes and renovations in its long history but continues to remain one of the premiere opera houses in the world.
Oslo Opera House, Oslo, Norway
Opened in April 2008, this award winning opera house is situated in central Oslo at the head of the Oslofjord. The white marble sloping roof offers panoramic views of Oslo and creates a large plaza for the public to enjoy.