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8 of the Most Beautiful Opera Houses in the World

With their skillfully crafted design and architecture, these famous opera houses are among the most stunning structures you can visit.

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© Guillaume de Laubier

Coliseum in London, Great Britain

With 2,359 seats, the Coliseum is the biggest theater in London. Historically, it was one of the first in London to be lit electrically; and its revolving stage has long made it one of the most technically advanced theaters.

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© Guillaume de Laubier

Slotts-Teater in Drottningholm, Sweden

This opera house, located on the grounds of Sweden’s royal residence (nicknamed the “Swedish Versailles”), has remained in its original state since it was inaugurated in 1766.

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© Guillaume de Laubier

La Fenice in Venice, Italy

Construction was stunningly fast at La Fenice: The theater was built in barely twenty-seven months, and was inaugurated in 1792. Following the Italian tradition, the balconies are divided into boxes. La Fenice can seat an impressive 1,500 spectators, thanks to its soaring height.

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© Guillaume de Laubier

Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Russia

The Bolshoi theater, located a few steps from the Kremlin and Red Square, was a major site for political gatherings in the Communist era. It was here that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was proclaimed in December 1922 and that the congresses of the Communist International were held under Lenin.

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© Guillaume de Laubier

Aalto Mukiktheater in Essen, Germany

In 1958, the city of Essen held a competition to construct of a new opera house, and the winner was none other than Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. Unfortunately, the designer passed away in 1976, leaving his wife to oversee the completion of the project.

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© Santiago Calatrava for Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, Valencia.

Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia, Spain

This building’s scale is awe-inspiring: It stands 229 feet (about 23 stories tall) and covers a surface area of 398,264 square feet (nearly seven football fields). The glass ceiling was originally intended to serve as a stage curtain that would come down after each performance.

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© Guillaume de Laubier

Theatre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, Belgium

The theater’s horseshoe-shaped floor plan and open balconies in the French style accommodate 1,100 spectators. With safety demands increasing over the years, the theater underwent an ambitious renovation in 1985 and reopened in November 1986.

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© Guillaume de Laubier

The Most Beautiful Opera Houses in the World

For more information and stunning photos, pick up The Most Beautiful Opera Houses in the World copyright 2013 Abrams, 2013, available at Amazon and Abrams Books.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest