The two largest cities in Flanders, Antwerp and Ghent, had two separate opera companies until 1981, when the two companies were merged to form the Flemish Opera. Now this joint opera company presents the same productions in the historic opera houses in both cities.
For example, in the autumn of 2011 they prepared a new production of what I have called the world’s first tourist opera, Il viaggio a Reims (The Journey to Reims) by Gioachino Rossini (1792 - 1868). The premiere of this new production was in Antwerp on December 18, 2011. It was then performed five more times in Antwerp before moving over to Ghent for five performances in January 2012.
Unfortunately I still haven’t seen any performances of the Flemish Opera, so I can’t give any first-hand impressions as I usually do, but I have learned from their website that operas have been performed in Antwerp since 1660. In 1834 the Théâtre Royal was opened, performing mainly French operas along with Italian operas in French translation. In 1899 it was decided that Antwerp needed a Flemish Opera to outshine the French one -- just as the National (Czech) Theater in Prague was intended to be grander and more resplendent and more modern than the older German theater (now the Estates Theater), which had been built a century earlier.
The current Flemish Opera in Antwerp was inaugurated in 1907. In 2004 it closed for the first time for a thorough renovation, which took three years. A side stage was built, new offices and working spaces were constructed and the technical equipment was modernized. The building re-opened in 2007 just in time for its one hundredth anniversary. After renovation, the auditorium now seats 1081 people.
Location of the Antwerp opera house on Google Maps.
The old French Opera still exists, by the way, but it is now called the Bourlaschouwburg and is used for spoken drama, mainly in Dutch.
The first public opera performances in Antwerp date back to 1661.In 2007 the Opera house was in a deplorable state and its very existence was threatened but a lengthy renovation brought it back to its former splendour.In the early years the boulevard in front of the 'Vlaamse Opera' was embellished with a flowerbed and a large monument dedicated to 'Peter Benoit'.in 1951 the flowerbed and monument had to make way for rapidly growing traffic.Adding insult to injury a bus stop was later placed smack in front of the entrance to the Opera House.Fortunately the Opera House will be getting a more repectable entry soon.In 2008 a pedestrian friendly square was designed by the Spanish architect 'Manuel De Sola Morales'.Construction of this new square,the Operaplein (Opera Square),is expected to start in early 2014,completion is projected for 2018.
If you like opera then I don't have to introduce
the 'vlaamse opera'.With a limited budget
this 'opera' got quit some international
appreciation and has put Antwerp on the map.
The flemish opera was build in 1907 and
the architect is A. Van Mechelen.
The golden piecework and the marble
interior are illustrative for the importance and
beauty of this building.
I'm afraid performances are almost always
sold out very soon as the opera has got a lot
of subscriptions. But give it a try.
The Flemish Opera started in 1661. Throughout the years the opera burned down some times. However it wasn't until 1899 that the decisions for a new building were declared. And after a few years of construction the Opera opens again. Dutch is the language used for the opera's.
At the Frankrijklei you will find the Royal Flemish Opera.
The Flemish Opera is one institution but located at 2 different geographical places: one in Antwerp, the other one in Gent.
Plays will be played in both cities.
Great interior. It is number 20 at the list of best European opera's which is splendid because it has to work with a limited budget.
It gets but half the budget the Brussel's opera receives. There for it can't afford double casting which sometimes leads to very difficult situation in case of illness or accidents of the artist!
But so far they always could manage to solve the problems, even on the very last minute!
The Flemish Opera was founded as a contre pole for the Bourla Theatre, popular named the French theatre.
As the name reviels, most plays played there were French (some Italian) plays, sponsored by and performed for the local French aristocracy and bourgoisie.
It was actually Henry Fontaine, an internationally celebrated bass singer, who motivated Peter Benoit to go ahead with a Flanders Opera.
Peter Benoit is a very famous "toondichter" (music composer). His statue and grave you can find in the cemetary Schoonselhof in Hoboken nearby Antwerp. Pictures of it are on my Hoboken page.
Very interesting background information is found at the website provided. No need for me to repeat it here as it is so brilliantly and detailed written on that site. Do pay it a visit!
Box office Antwerp:
Phone +32 (0) 3-233 66 85
Box office Ghent:
Box Office Gent:
Phone +32 (0)9 225 24 25
More pictures and info about a guided visit backstage in my travelogues.
From the Central Station, take Emperor's Boulevard to immerse yourself in the heart of the old town. This tree lined-boulevard filled with junk food outlets will lead you to the series of large and mostly uninspiring boulevards (leien) that mark the boundaries of the Old Town. Here, you will find also some remarkable buildings, including the Flemish Opera Theater, which hosts the performances of the Vlaamse Opera in the city. It is an early 20th century work of Alexis Van Mechelen and E. Van Averbeke.
The theater appears bizarrely tucked amongst high rise buildings, including the 87 meter tall Antwerp Tower one of the summits of the city.
Though Antwerpen has it's royal Flanders Opera-house, this town couldn't do without it's own "schouwburg" or in English: a theatre. The great building is often seen by cardrivers, but not many times by the visitors of the centre. Reason is that it is on the outer ring (the Leien) and therefor out of the walking direction of the masses. Anyway, the building is a wonderful neo-classicistic architecture and holds several halls in which performances are held, varieting from ballet and plays to general performances and conferences (Dutch term for entertainment brought by speech).
The Antwerpen Opera is not so nicely situated along a rather busy street. Thereby, the building is not in top condition, as seen from the greyish and black polution on the stones. Still, underneath this vail one can witness a great building and inside the recognistion of the magnificent musical temple of this town is for sure.
Royal Flemish Opera house
Built from 1904 - 1907
Situated on the Frankrijklei no 3
Architects E van Haverbeke
A van Mechelen
The Flemish Opera started in 1661. Throughout the years the opera burned down a few times. In 1899 they made the decisions to create a new building . After a few years of construction the Opera opens again.
Very beautifull historical building.Its great to go to the opera.If you have the opportunity do it.You want regret it.
The Flemish Opera, situated very near the Keyserlei and the Central Station