Ten of the World’s Best Places to Hear Classical Music and Opera
A fabulous backdrop, historic monument, or an integral part of a performance? Ten of the world’s great classical music venues offer a variety of perspectives.
1. Opéra de Paris – Palais Garnier
An architectural masterpiece of the Neo-Baroque, the Palais Garnier features strongly in popular imagination for its central role in Leroux’s ‘Phantom of the Opéra’, and is celebrated among lovers of modern art for the vast central dome painted by Marc Chagall. Housing up to 1,900 spectators and 450 artists, the Opéra offers a busy program of opera and ballet.
Classictic tip: Double check your tickets – the Palais Garnier is paired with the modernist Opéra de Bastille as the home of the Opéra National de Paris.
2. Philharmonie Berlin
Though controversial at its 1963 opening for its tent-like shape and brilliant yellow color, the unmistakable Philharmonie Berlin at the center of the reunified city has remarkable acoustics, and has provided a pattern for numerous concert halls around the world. The home of the famed Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, both the principal and chamber halls are designed to ensure that music is the center of attention; the audience surrounds the stage on all sides.
3. Vienna Musikverein
A sumptuous monument to classical music, the Wiener Musikverein is a pivotal point in the international concert circuit, and the center of Viennese musical culture. The exquisite Golden Hall hosts the annual New Year’s Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic, broadcast worldwide since 1959. Possessing seven concert halls, the building combines the power of tradition and the frisson of constant musical creation.
4. Sydney Opera House
An iconic image with its sail-shaped roofs, Jørn Utzon’s Sydney Opera House became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. Created to house several theaters and concert halls, the building is home to Opera Australia, the Australian Ballet, and the Sydney Symphony and Australian Chamber Orchestras.
Classictic tip: As well as an opera, ballet or concert, book a tour of the Sydney Opera House to fully appreciate this architectural gem. Find information about tour schedules here.
5. Palau de la Música Catalana
An Art Nouveau jewel, the ‘Palace of Catalan Music‘, now an essential part of the international concert circuit, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. A magical space, designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner to embody the style and temperament of its Barcelona home, the main auditorium is flooded with natural light from the enormous central skylight, representing the sun, and local artisans created the vivid decorative elements.
6. Royal Concertgebouw
Described by Bernard Haitink as “the best instrument in any orchestra it houses”, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw has acoustics that secure its place among the worlds’ leading concert halls.
Gifted to the city in 1888, this Neo-Classical gem is home to the celebrated orchestra that bears its name, and hosts numerous international stars in its two exquisite halls.
Classictic Tip: If you can’t fit an evening concert into your trip, try a lunchtime or Sunday morning concert.
7. Opera di Roma
With its gilded rows of boxes and rich decoration, this is an auditorium to fulfill all dreams of operatic splendor. An unpromising 1950s façade gives way to a luxurious interior that has hosted every great name in opera of the last century. In the summer the company, now lead by Riccardo Muti, decamps to the famous Baths of Caracalla, where Rome’s Imperial history provides a backdrop to spectacular productions.
8. Carnegie Hall
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice! Alternatively, attend a performance in one of the fabled venue’s three halls. Carnegie Hall is a New York landmark, and has been the center of the city’s music scene since 1891, offering Classical, Jazz, and World Music a home on stages that have hosted a constant stream of stars.
Classictic tip: Make sure your visit includes the Rose Museum above the main concert hall for a glimpse of the Hall’s extraordinary legacy. On performance evenings, the Museum is open to audience members from the Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage.
9. Philharmonie de Paris
Europe’s newest great hall offers audiences an intimate experience of even the largest scale works. The sinuous shapes and extraordinary adaptability of Jean Nouvel’s Grande Salle create a unique visual and auditory experience, enveloping audiences in sound, whilst never allowing the distance between conductor and spectator to exceed 32 meters.
10. Shanghai Symphony Hall
China’s flagship concert hall opened in 2014, but the state of the art Symphony Hall is already famous for an acoustic intensity that creates an immersive experience in the 1200-seat main hall, and an ideal recording venue, with extraordinary clarity of sound, in the smaller chamber hall – a major draw card for international stars.