Royal Opera House

Royal Opera House (89)

This temple of opera and dance, formerly called Covent Garden Theatre, was a conventional theatre in its early days. In fact, a law passed by King Charles II gave Covent Garden and the Drury Lane Theatre the monopoly on spoken dramatic performances in the city of London. 

But around the mid-19th century the monopoly ended and Michael Costa, who at the time was directing Her Majesty’s Theatre in the Haymarket, brought his opera company to Covent Garden. The architect Benedetto Albano was entrusted to redesign the auditorium and the theatre was converted into the Royal Italian Opera in 1847. The work with which it premiered was Rossini’s Semiramide.

However, the history of the Royal Opera House is intimately linked to fires. After having been devoured by flames in 1808, it was totally burnt down again in 1856. The current appearance of the building is down to the work of the architect Edward Middleton Barry. Its elegant façade is overlooked by a majestic Corinthian portico decorated by the sculptor John Flaxman. 

As regards the definitive name of the auditorium, this was due to the increasingly frequent number of French and German works among the repertoire performed here. For this reason, in 1892 the name of Royal Italian Opera was abandoned and the Royal Opera House chosen, which was closer to reality.

If the Royal Opera House can boast of anything, it is its marvellous acoustics, something that makes this hall one of the best coliseums in the world dedicated to opera. The Royal Opera House is also the home of the Royal Opera Company and the Royal Ballet, two veritable institutions of great artistic quality. 

The theatre, which was reformed and enlarged in 1999, provides, as well as the performances, guided visits and even the possibility of attending rehearsals of the Royal Ballet. 

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