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The Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera is one of the world’s leading opera companies. Based in the iconic Covent Garden theatre, it is renowned both for its outstanding performances of traditional opera and for commissioning new works by today’s leading opera composers.

The Royal Opera was formed as the Covent Garden Opera Company in 1946, but behind it lies a tradition of operatic performance which goes back for more than 260 years at its home in Covent Garden. Built in 1732, the first theatre on this site served as more of a playhouse , although many of Handel’s operas and oratorios were premiered here. Like its neighbor , the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, the building proved prone to fire and burned down in 1808 and again in 1856.

The present theatre was built in 1858. During World War II it was used as a dance hall but after the war the idea of public subsidy of the arts was accepted and the decision was made to establish the Royal Opera House as the permanent year-round home of the opera and ballet companies now known as The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet. It was the ballet company which reopened the building on 20 February 1946 with The Sleeping Beauty.  The two Companies combined for Purcell’s The Fairy Queen that December, and on 14 January 1947, Covent Garden Opera Company gave its first complete opera performance,Bizet's Carmen.

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At a glance

  • Activity

    Culture, Sightseeing
  • Address

    Bow St WC2, London
  • Underground

    Covent Garden

"The Royal Opera is one of the world’s leading opera & ballet companies."

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