Perhaps one of the most beautiful structures in Hungary can be found in Budapest and that is the Hungarian State Opera House. At one point, it was originally called the Hungarian Royal Opera House and it was constructed from 1875 to 1884. The Hungarian State Opera House is a fine example of neo-Renaissance architecture that has been preserved for almost 150 years. In fact, the opera house is currently going through a multi-million dollar renovation. Its facade will be revealed in 2020 and will be fully opened again to the public in 2021. By the time it reopens, the Opera House will be even bigger and better in terms of technological capacity, but it will still retain its original beauty birthed by Miklós Ybl, the legendary 19th-century Hungarian architect behind the remarkable structure. In the meantime, performances are being held at the secondary building of Erkel Theater, which is Hungary’s biggest auditorium. Nevertheless, you will need this travel guide so that when it reopens, you’ll be ready to visit. Read on to check out about this guide to the Hungarian State Opera House.
Things to do / highlights
One of the most famous things about the Hungarian State Opera House is its architecture. It’s been recognized as one of the most beautiful buildings in all of Hungary. This is all thanks to Miklós Ybl who designed the Opera House way back in 1875. When looking at it from the outside, you will think that the Opera House is a palace because of how grand it looks.
You will also notice that the facade and its little details are patterned after musical-related ideas like the nine Muses in Greek mythology. At the main entrance, the sculptures of Hungary’s most famous composers, Ferenc Erkel and Franz Liszt, will greet you upon your arrival. There’s simply a lot to take in when you visit the Hungarian State Opera House, and the architecture is already worth the visit even without seeing a show.
Budapest Opera Ball
The Hungarian State Opera House itself is a structure rooted in Hungary’s history. It was once part of the Austria-Hungary Empire that thrived during the 19th century after all. Around that time in 1886, the first Opera Ball was organized and it was a celebration like no other. The main stage transforms into a huge ballroom and the attendees all come in their formal evening wear. The ball is usually held on the last Saturday of February but in 1934, the tradition was put to a halt due to the war. It was not revived until 1996.
Today, it continues to be a representation of 19th-century Austro-Hungarian culture and is attended by many of the prestigious members of Hungary’s public with complete coverage from local media. It’s quite a big thing in Budapest, so if you happen to be around during this time, you should follow the story or if you’re lucky enough, might even get an invite somehow!
Classic plays and operatic performances
Europe has always been a pioneer of certain performing arts such as theater and opera, which is what the Hungarian State Opera House is best known for. Aside from admiring the structure’s remarkable architecture, the most obvious reason for coming to the Opera House is to catch a stage performance.
The Opera House usually holds several shows in a day, so best to check their schedule on their website for more information. You will be offered performances that range from operas, ballet, concerts, and even talk shows! All you have to do is to choose which one you would like to see.
Observe proper decorum
As with any theater, there is always proper decorum to be followed. The first and foremost would be your attire. There isn’t a written rule on theater dress code but it’s been a default fact that you should be in somewhat formal attire when attending the opera. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it can be simple yet elegant. Although if you come in jeans or shorts, it doesn’t mean you’ll be denied entry, it will just feel weird for you to not be in proper attire.
Another tip for attendees is during intermission, make the most of your time to explore a bit of the theater. Many people use this time to go to the toilet to freshen up but you can also head to the buffet on the first-floor terrace. Of course, as with any public place, manners are to be observed, especially in a formal setting such as the opera.
Tours are available
If you’re not so much a fan of opera or ballet, or you simply don’t have the time to see a performance, don’t worry! You can still visit the Hungarian State Opera House during its guided tours. These tours usually last about 30 to 45 minutes and you get to see the beauty and learn the history of the iconic Opera House.
There are scheduled days when your language is available so best to check this out with them. However, English tours are offered every day so that usually shouldn’t be a problem. There’s also an option for a five-minute concert at the end of every tour. Tickets cost about 2,990 Hungarian Forint, which is roughly 10 USD, but you will have to check if this is up to date.
How to get tickets
The Opera House offers a number of performances throughout the year. Ballet and opera are the most common performances during the latter part of the year. Aside from performances, the Opera House also offers tours for those who may not have the time or interest to see a show but are interested in viewing the marvelous building.
For all ticket concerns, you can head over to their official website for more information and updates on the grand reopening of the Hungarian State Opera House.
Hungarian State Opera House information
Hungarian State Opera House
Address: Budapest, Andrássy út 22, 1061 Hungary
Official Website: Hungarian State Opera House
Department of Tourism website: Budapest
Opening hours: 10am - 8pm (daily)
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