Royal Opera House, London
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Home of the Royal Opera and Royal Ballet, the Royal Opera House wows passers-by every day with its striking pillared frontage. The interior is no less magnificent, with the deep stage and ample orchestra pit surrounded by a sandy-coloured horseshoe of seats and underneath a pale blue and gilded dome. The Floral Hall, an impressive annexed conservatory that was once Covent Garden’s flower market, is well worth a visit too.
Nearest Tube Station:
Directions From Tube:
(3 mins) The Opera House is off Covent Garden piazza, which is visible from the tube station exit. There is a revolving door entrance at the piazza.
(Aldwych) RV1, 6, 11, 13, 23, 59, 68, 87, 171, 172, 188, X68
Night Bus Numbers:
(Aldwych) 6, 23, 188, N11, N13, N26, N47, N68, N87, N89, N155, N171, N551
Nearest Rail Station:
Nearest Car Park:
Drury Lane, Parker Street (7mins)
Royal Opera House
Bow Street, London, WC2E 9DD
The Royal Opera House has an 18th century production of The Beggar’s Opera to thank, as its profits built it. Constructed in 1732 as the ‘Theatre Royal, Covent Garden’, it got its hands on one of the most precious assets a theatre could have at that time – a theatrical patent from the King, allowing drama to be performed. (The only other theatre with that privilege was the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.)
Still, despite its dramatic leanings, composer Handel took a liking to the place and debuted many of his compositions there in the 1700s, as well as leaving it his organ in his will – too bad the artefact was destroyed in a fire in 1808.
With the drama patents dropped in 1843, the theatre no longer had exclusive drama rights, and chose to rebrand itself as the ‘Royal Italian Opera’. The management took its Italian name so far that even the non-Italian operas were translated into Italian! But this didn’t last forever; it was renamed the simpler title ‘The Royal Opera House’ in the late 1890s, allowing it to expand into French and German operas.
Post World War II, the Sadler’s Wells Ballet company took up residence, and along with the newly formed Covent Garden Opera company took over the space, both earning the titles ‘Royal Ballet’ and ‘Royal Opera’ over the years. And, despite its age, the Royal Opera House is one of the most attractive performance spaces in London thanks to a multi-million pound restoration in the late ‘90s.
The building suffered two fires in its history – in 1808 and 1857. However most of what you see today was reconstructed in the 1990s.
It is the home of the Royal Opera and the Royal Ballet.
The Royal Opera House is also a museum for collections of magnificent operatic costumes, old documents and prints and posters.
The Royal Opera roster has as many as 178 singers available at one time with 19 conductors, while the Royal Ballet has 93 performers of various abilities to choose from.
The ‘piano forte’ was first heard here in 1767.
When the theatre was rebuilt after its 1808 fire, it raised ticket prices to pay for the building work. This caused such uproar among theatre-goers that they caused what has become known as ‘The Old Price Riots’. The prices eventually went back down.
During World War I, the space was used to store furniture; in World War II, it was a dance hall.
Make the most of your trip on the town with a delicious meal before the show. Check out our top recommendations below. All these restaurants are just a stone’s throw away from your theatre. So you can relax before enjoying a slice of world class entertainment. Simply add your theatre tickets to your basket and select the restaurant of your choice.