Opera has never been more popular – and opera houses are a fine way to understand a city and its people.
This is the message brought home by a new exhibition, Opera: Passion, Power and Politics, at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
What’s more, you don’t have to pay top dollar for top opera: there are alternatives where good seats cost no more than £40. Here are our six of the best…
Naples on song
Pompeii in the afternoon and Verdi’s La Traviata at Teatro San Carlo in the evening? Easy – the ruins are only a 30-minute train ride from the centre.
Built in 1737, San Carlo is the oldest continuously active opera house in the world, beating La Scala (1778) and Venice’s La Fenice (1792).
Best of Berlin
If you like your culture strong and undiluted, this is your city. With three opera houses (Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Deutsche Oper and Komische Oper), Berlin qualifies as the music capital of Europe. This autumn sees the reopening of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden after seven years’ restoration.
With the genius conductor Daniel Barenboim presiding, opera buffs will be in paradise.
The Lobkowicz Palace is the only private house within the walls of Prague Castle and is home to the country¿s largest family art collection
The Lobkowicz Palace is the only private house within the walls of Prague Castle and is home to the country’s largest family art collection
Czechs have a lot to brag about. It was at the Estates Theatre that Mozart conducted the premiere of Don Giovanni in 1787, which was reportedly still wet on the manuscript.
The State Opera House, all gilt and plush, is under restoration, but that won’t spoil your visit because there are equally dazzling alternatives for performances such as the Karlin, National and Estates Theatres.
Verdi or Wagner? At the Semper Opera House you can afford both, because top-price tickets are about £86. Dresden is a baroque masterpiece and its destruction by the Allies in 1945 remains controversial. But its restoration, including the Italianate opera house, has been miraculous.
The Teatro Real is one of the most splendid in Europe and if you have any heirlooms, this is the place to rattle your jewellery and carry your best handbag.