London’s Royal Opera House is Commonly Referred to as Covent Garden:
London’s world-famous Royal Opera House is more commonly referred to as ‘Covent Garden’ because of its location. For anyone interested in enjoying ballet or opera in London, the Royal Opera House is home of the Royal Opera, the Royal Ballet and the ROH Orchestra. (See what’s on at the Royal Opera House HERE).
If you’re walking around the Covent Garden Market area, you can’t miss the Opera House. The front entrance of this huge building, with a grand classical portico, fronts on to Bow Street and is only a minute’s walk from the Covent Garden Market. In the past, only ticket holders could enter the Opera House. Nowadays visitors can walk around and enjoy morning coffee or lunch at the Amphitheatre Restaurant or take a drink out to the Amphitheatre Terrace to enjoy stunning views across the Covent Garden Piazza. If you take a part in the back stage tour, you may even be able to see ballet dancers practicing.
A Brief History of the Royal Opera House
The current opera house is the third theatre built on the Covent Garden site, both the previous buildings were destroyed by fire. The first was opened in December 1732, but the theatre was mainly for spoken drama and pantomime.
The present building opened on 15 May 1858 with a performance of Meyerbeer’s “Les Huguenots”. In those early days the theatre was called the Royal Italian Opera. However, with the increase in the French and German repertoires, the theatre changed its name to the Royal Opera House in 1892.
During the First World War, the theatre was used as a furniture repository and then as the Mecca Dance Hall during the Second World War. But the Royal Opera survived and re-opened on 20 Februray 1946 with a gala performance of “The Sleeping Beauty”, with Margot Fonteyn as Aurora. Many great master composers, opera and ballet stars have performed at the Royal Opera including Händel. Händel is the first major composer to perform at the Royal Opera and he had a strong link with the Royal Opera. From 1735 to his death, he visited frequently and many of his operas and oratorios were written for the Royal Opera House.
Royal Opera Transformed
In 1996 a three-year redevelopment project took place and the Opera House was totally transformed to create better facilities for the performers and audience, as well as to make it into a public space.
Getting to the Opera House
The Opera House does not have a dedicated car park. The easiest way to get to the Opera House is by Tube – Covent Garden tube station is on the Piccadilly Line.
There are also a number of buses that go close to the Opera House: 1, 4, 6, 9, 11, 13, 15, 23, 26, 68, 76, 77a, 91, 168, 171, 176, 188, 501 (southbound only), 505, 521, X68 all go to the Aldwych, which is close to the Theatre.
London, WC2E 9DD
Tel: +44 (0)20 7240 1200
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