See dazzling theatre shows, listen to classical music and laugh during a comedy act in the iconic Manchester Opera House. While this much-loved local venue regularly hosts touring concerts, high-rating West End musicals, ballet, children’s shows and Christmas pantomime, opera is in fact rarely performed here.
The building has been part of Manchester’s cultural landscape since 1912 and has changed hands numerous times. It has nearly always been a touring theatre, but briefly functioned as a bingo hall in the 1980s. Today, the Manchester Opera House remains very popular both for its performances and its architecture.
The Opera House is far more intimate than other Manchester podium venues. It was designed by the teacher Sir Albert Edward Richardson, who at the time was an inexperienced architect. He failed to create sufficient room for the large crowds the shows attract. Perhaps he predicted that its cosy, old-fashioned charm would be part of the reason why so many people visit today.
Duck into the small foyer and climb the steps of the steeply raked seating to be rewarded with a spectacular view. The auditorium has an immense high-vaulted ceiling and some of the best theatre acoustics in the city.
Order a drink at one of the bars inside the building or head out for a meal afterwards at one of the surrounding restaurants in this nightlife hot spot.
The central location of the Opera House on Oxford Road makes it easily accessible by public transport. The nearby Oxford Road station is serviced by the free Metroshuttle bus, which services city centre train stations as well as some car parks and bus stops. Trams and buses stop at St. Peter’s Square, which is just over five minutes’ walk away. If you are driving, pay a fee for a space in the nearby undercover garages.
When booking tickets, online or through the box office, keep in mind that the cheaper seats at the rear or top of the rows have poor sightlines, so pay a bit more if you are keen to make the most of your visit.