Enjoy an opera or ballet or simply admire the beautiful interior and exterior of this pre-1900 neo-Renaissance architectural masterpiece.
Hungary’s 300-year-long and very strong operatic tradition was given a major boost when the Hungarian State Opera House (Magyar Állami Operaház) opened in Budapest in 1884. The building was designed by Mikós Ybl with influence from the Vienna Opera House. It now houses both the Hungarian State Opera and the Hungarian State Ballet. Its acoustics are considered among the finest in Europe, nearly as good as Milan’s La Scala and Paris’s Palais Garnier.
Enjoy both the interior and the exterior of this neo-Renaissance building. Outside the theater are statues of the well-known Hungarian composer Franz Liszt and also Ferenc Erkel who composed the Hungarian national anthem. Erkel founded the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra and was the first music director of the Opera House.
Inside, see paintings and sculptures by Hungarian artists Bertalan Székely, Mór Than and Alajos Stróbl. Look up above the 1,261-seat auditorium to see the beautiful chandelier weighing 6,710 pounds (3,050 kilograms). It lights the Károly Lotz fresco of the Greek gods on Olympus in the vaulted ceiling. The entrance to the auditorium includes a wide stone staircase carpeted in red. The interior continues the opulence with plush red seats surrounded by walls and multilevel boxes shining as if they were made of pure gold. On most days guided tours are available in English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian and Spanish.
The highlights of the Opera House, however, are its performances. Many of the world’s greatest operatic singers have performed here, including Renée Fleming, Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, José Cura and Juan Diego Flórez. The opera and ballet season lasts from September through June and includes classics and occasional premieres. Book in advance if you would like to see a great opera or ballet in this special venue.
The Hungarian State Opera House is along Andrássy Avenue, near the Danube. Take the subway or bus, or walk from Heroes’ Square.