Europe’s opera houses are something special. From St Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre to Vienna’s Staatsoper, opera fans from around the world delight in show-stopping performances in ornate surrounds.

A European river cruise with Emerald Waterways is the perfect opportunity to visit these grand buildings - so let’s take a look at some of the beautiful opera houses that Europe has to offer.

Estates Theatre, Prague

Prague’s oldest theatre, the Estates Theatre, opened its doors in 1793. Today, it is widely held as one of the finest neo-classical buildings in the whole of Europe – and we’d be inclined to agree.

From the moment you step foot inside the theatre, you will be captured by its unique charm. In fact, many visitors say that you can feel the spiritual presence of the countless musicians, directors, artists, and playwrights who have graced the stage.

This captivating theatre is also steeped in history – Mozart conducted the world premier of his famous Don Giovanni here in 1787. In fact, it is the only existing location where Mozart performed.

Today this is the theatre’s main operatic production, playing daily between mid July and early August, as well as at various other points throughout the year.

Hungarian State Opera House - Budapest

Located in Budapest, the Hungarian State Opera House stands tall as one of the most beautiful neo-Renaissance buildings in Europe.

Opened in 1884, the magnificent design was commissioned by Emperor Franz Joseph and was designed by one of the leading European architects of the time, Miklós Ybl.

The Opera House quickly became one of the most prestigious musical institutions in Europe, with many iconic artists gracing the stage, including Gustav Mahler.

As well as enjoying world class performances in the venue, you can also take a tour of the Opera House during the day time, taking in its world class architecture. Tours last 45 minutes and are offered daily between 3pm and 4pm in a range of languages.

Vienna Staatsoper

Constructed in 1869, the original Vienna Staatsoper was almost completely destroyed by Allied bombing during the Second World War. Fortunately, it was rebuilt under the instruction of Austrian architects Erich Boltenstern and Otto Prossinger, reopening its doors in 1955 with a performance of Beethoven’s Fidelo.

Today, the Staatsoper has a world-wide reputation for its first-class opera performances. Home to the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the Staatsoper also boasts the widest repertoire in the world, with over 300 performances of over 60 operas and ballets, taking place during its September to June season alone. Each year, it also hosts the prestigious Vienna Opera Ball.

Of course, as with many of Europe’s opera houses, the Vienna Staatsoper is also aesthetically stunning. The building itself is influenced by the Italian Renaissance and there are numerous statues and embellishments both internally and externally that add to the building’s majestic feel. 

Slovak National Theatre, Bratislava

Established in 1920, the Slovak National Theatre is one of Slovakia’s most important cultural institutions.

Located within two separate buildings – a Habsburg-era building in the city centre and a brand new building on the banks of the Danube – this impressive theatre really does make an impressions.

The Slovak National Theatre company puts on a season extending from the beginning of September to the end of June, annually and, during this period, performances are held every day, except for Sunday.

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