Bucharest’s Opera House is the main venue for seeing opera and ballet performances in Bucharest. Their annual season runs from October to June and tickets are usually dirt cheap. They tend to stick to a classical repertoire. Due to lack of funding the sets are not too spectacular but performances are of a high quality. The edifice was built in the years 1952-1953 after the design by a group of architects led by Octav Doicescu. These were the first years of communism in Romania and the style condoned by the regime was called “socialist realism“, the official artistic movement of the Soviet Union. The socialist realism required an artificial return to the classical theme, away from the modernist tendencies of the day, which is why the Opera building has a neoclassical design. One example of the socialist realism touch, that can be seen in the photo, are the bas reliefs on the facade. The interior is in the tradition of the 18th century Italian Opera, with a central dome and three tiers of balconies. It can seat 1200 people. It’s not as magnificent as other opera houses I’ve seen in my travels, but given the fact that it was built during the communist regime – whose architectural attempts focused on the practical rather than beautiful – I think it looks good. The inauguration of the new building of the Opera House was celebrated by a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades on January 9th, 1954 followed by the ballet Coppelia the following night.
For all you opera lovers there. When visiting Bucharest make sure you check out the schedule of concerts at the opera. You might want to enjoy a night of nicely opera or even a balet performance.
The Opera building is a relatively new construction (1953). It has a capacity of 2200 places and it hosts at the top floor The Opera Museum where documents, pictures and costumes regarding the lyric culture and history in Romania.
In front of the Opera House there is the bronze statue of the great romanian composer George Enescu made by the sculptor Ion Jalea.
The Theatre of Opera and Ballet was built in 1952-1953, following the plans designed by Octav Doicescu. Designed in classical style, the building has three arcades on the main facade, through which access is done. The main hall has 2200 places; there are loggias and balconies on three levels. On the last floor there is a small Opera Museum. In front of the building there is the bronze statue of Composer George Enescu, by Ion Jalea.
I remember when I was a teenager I went there once to see "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" (or "Le nozze di Figaro") from Italian composer Rossini, and the whole performance was sung in Romanian, which was very funny for me as I am used to the words in the Italian version!
Very many famous artists of great gift carry on their activity in this space, which for a couple of year, has become a national institution
The original Opera House was built on Calea Victoriei south of Piata Palatului (aka Revolution square), on the site of nowadays Novotel (hotel entrance tries to mimic the original entrance to the opera house), but the original building was badly damaged after the earthquake in 1938. After WWII, when links with the past ought to be broken/forgotten, communists decided it was justified to erase the old opera and build a new one. That's how the new Bucharest Opera House appeared in 1954.
Although its' acoustic is quite poor, it remained the main opera stage in a country whose most brilliant opera singers (like Joseph Schmidt, Virginia Zeani, Ileana Cotrubas, Mariana Nicolesco, Elena Cernei, David Ohanesian, Nicolae Herlea, Angela Burlacu Gheorghiu, etc.) were forced to look for worldwide recognition abroad.
I think the sad history above should rather stimulate you going to see a performance, especially since the tickets are currently one of the world cheapest – 6-7 EUR. Should you decide to buy one, insist on having the expensier ones on the ground floor and under no circumstances accept upper balconies..
If you understand some Romanian, you can try the great representations of the National Theatre with its three halls (Sala Mare, Sala Atelier and Sala Amfiteatru): 2 Nicolae Balcescu Avenue, in University Square, tel.: (021)3147171, www.tnb.kappa.ro. The Opera House has great, but really great performances, with tickets being very cheap (about 3-4 EUR). Find it on 70-72 Kogalniceanu Avenue (tel.: (021)3146980, www.onrbucuresti.fx.ro), it is reachable from University Square to the west by bus # 336. Another place never-to-be-missed for those still enjoying classical tones is the Romanian Athenaeum, hosting grand classical music concerts (1-3 Benjamin Franklin, tel.: (021)3158798, concerts on Thursday and Friday evenings, as well as on Saturday and Sunday sometimes); the ticket office lies to the right of the main entrance, after the corner. Please turn off your much beloved mobile phone. Movies have Romanian subtitles, so one can enjoy the original language. Among the cinemas, we would recommend Patria Cinema (12-14 Magheru Avenue, tel.: (021)2118625) and Studio Cinema (29 Magheru, tel.: (021)2128157). For old movies bringing you back those days when you were young and did not dream about going to Romania, check out what’s on in the Cinemateca Eforie (2 Eforie, just to the west from Victoria Avenue after passing by Victoria Store and the Central Police Station, tel.: (021)3130483). The Circus lies a bit to the east from ªtefan cel Mare metro station, alongside Stefan cel Mare Avenue (15 Aleea Circului, tel.: (021)2104998).
Constructed in 1953 after the plans of the architect Octav Doicescu , the Opera House opened in 1954, with a capacity of 1200 seats. A classic repertoire including Mozart, Wagner, Verdi, Rossini, Puccini, Enescu is maintained at the Opera House. In front of building is statue of George Enescu, great romanian composer.
I was told that this place has excellent productions at cheap prices, so you'd better book your tickets early.
Performances are suspended for the summer touring season, and resume in October.
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