While we haven’t been to all of them yet, we’ve made it a goal to attend performances at some of the world’s legendary theaters – or should that be theatres – during our travels. So far, we’ve made it to four and I’ll offer a mini-review of our findings.
Munich Opera House – A very nice theatre that’s been rebuilt multiple times due to fire damage and the war. In Germany there is no recession, so every performance anywhere in town is usually sold out. We finally managed to score tickets to a touring Russian ballet company. Overall, it was a solid performance in a comfortable and grand space. I’d be happy attending anything there.
Vienna Opera House – A truly amazing building. The function rooms and staircases are everything you’d expect from one of the most important opera houses in the world. The auditorium feels compact with all private boxes wrapping the stage – you definitely feel as if you’re somewhere special. While they have the largest repertoire in the world, we were only able to see a Richard Strauss opera written in the 1930s but so sentimental it could have been from the 1880s with production and direction just as musty. Theatre wow, performance meh.
Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg – Just wow. Dating to the 18th C with many names, remodels, etc. For traveling companies today it’s known as the Kirov, the name it had during Soviet times. The Mariinsky hosts both opera and ballet. We were seated in the orchestra area with the huge royal box for the Tsar looming at the back. One of the best ballet programs I’ve ever seen with tremendous grace, intensity and physicality exactly where they should be. Le Jeune Homme et La Mort is a spellbinding two person ballet. If luck finds you in St Petersburg, get tickets to the Mariinsky.
Paris Opera House – Also known as the Palais Garnier for its architect, Charles Garnier. Monumental, Beaux-Arts and the eye of the storm that is Paris. The Grand Staircase, the Grand Salon, the shear Grand-ness that is impossible to describe. And the front terrace is even open at intermission – any realtor will tell you that outdoor space very hard to come by in Paris! Ballet is on the program now, opera has moved to a new home at the Bastille. We saw a very good performance of a somewhat forgettable ballet. Theatre double wow, performance fun.