Where music, theatre and dance come to life
Europe has a rich culture of performance arts, and often the impressive venues themselves are one of the stars of the show. So come with us on a virtual tour of 11 beautiful theaters, opera houses and concert halls from around the continent.
The second-oldest theatre in Europe, the Burgtheatre was built in 1741 and was largely destroyed by bombs and fire in 1945, but has since been fully restored. The extravagantly-painted ceiling of the grand staircase includes early work from Gustav Klimt, and includes his only known self-portrait.
Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest
The Liszt Academy of Music was founded by the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt in 1875. A concert hall and music conservatory, it has changed homes several times: beginning in Liszt's home, it now resides in an Art Nouveau style building designed by Flóris Korb and Kálmán Giergl. The ornate inside of the building is largely due to the use of Zsolnay ceramics.
One of the most acoustically advanced concert halls in the world, the Elbphilarmonie has only recently been built, and opened its doors in January 2017. The Grand Hall is designed so that the performers sit in the middle of the audience, and is walled with 10,000 individually shaped plates that disperse the sound waves.
Teatro Bibiena, Mantua
Teatro Bibiena is also known as the "scientific theatre" as it was intended to host both theatre productions and concerts, and scientific discourses and conventions. Designed by Antonio Galli Bibiena in 1767, it is shaped like a bell with ornate, stucco balconies lining the walls. A 13-year-old Mozart performed here on its opening night.
National Forum of Music, Wroclaw
The design of Wroclaw's postmodern style music hall was inspired by the body of a string instrument, with state-of-the art acoustics to match. Special vibration insulators mean that listeners won't be able to hear the hustle and bustle from the busy outside streets and roads, or the sounds from the other performance chambers.
Palais Garnier, Paris
Named for its architect Charles Garnier, the Palais Garnier is perhaps most famous for the role it played in the novel and subsequent musical adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera (the building does in fact have its own underground lake). The colorful ceiling in the main auditorium was painted by Marc Chagall, with the design representing different composers and their works.
Latvian National Opera and Ballet, Riga
After initially opening in 1863, 19 years later the gas lighting in the Latvian National Opera and Ballet building sprung a leak, leading to a fire that destroyed a large part of the building . It was rebuilt with electricity as its new source of power, but as it was one of the first buildings in Riga to use it, it had to have its own power station built behind it.
The Colosseum , Rome
The Colosseum might not be fully in action any longer, but in its time was the site of numerous forms of ancient Roman entertainment, from gladiatorial contests to Classic mythological dramas. Positioned in the middle of Rome, it is the largest amphitheater (open-air venue) ever built.
La Monnaie, Brussels
La Monnaie's name, meaning the mint, comes from the fact that it was originally built on the site of a coin mint. The building that it has occupied since 1855, when a fire burnt down its previous home, is decorated in a mixture of Neo-Baroque, Neo-Rococo and Neo-Renaissance styles. The dome was painted by Auguste-Alfred Rubé and Philippe-Marie Chaperon in 1887, after CO2 emissions from the large crystal chandelier ruined the previous one.
Gothenburg Symphony, Gothenburg
Sweden's Gothenburg Symphony is based in the Gothernburg Concert Hall, built in 1935 and designed by architect Nils Einar Ericsson. The exterior was built in a neo-classical style to fit in with the surrounding area, but the 1,300-capacity interior is modernistic, clad in yellowish-red maple veneer.
Teatro Real, Madrid
The Teatro Real is Spain's leading opera house: its stage has been the setting of 387 performances of Verdi's Rigoletto, 361 performances of Aida and 342 of Il trovatore. The design of the building means that many seats can't see the stage, so a live stream of operas and ballets is projected on the upper side walls.