Nestled on Bennelong Point overlooking Sydney Harbor, Sydney Opera House is a dazzlingly contemporary addition to the Australian city’s skyline, and one of its most distinctive. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Danish architect Jørn Utzon and officially opened in 1973, the opera house’s first public performance was a rendition of Sergei Prokofiev’s War and Peace and in 2007 the building was recognized as ‘a great architectural work of the 20th century’ and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Featuring five theater spaces plus a forecourt for outdoor concerts, Sydney Opera House hosts performances by Opera Australia, the Sydney Theater Company, The Australian Ballet and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
Designed by famed architect Miklós Ybl, the beautiful, Neo-Renaissance-style Hungarian State Opera in Budapest opened in 1884 and remains virtually unchanged more than 130 years later. Statues of celebrated Hungarian composers Ferenc Erkel and Franz Liszt greet visitors at the opera house’s entrance, and inside its full opulence is revealed: a marble-paneled foyer leads to a grand double staircase, often hailed as one of the theater’s most impressive features, while its auditorium is equally lavish with three floors decorated with a red and gold motif sitting under a dramatic bronze chandelier and a frescoed ceiling painted by German-Hungarian artist Károly Lotz.
The modernist Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, part of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts complex, was designed by American architect Wallace Harrison – the same man behind other famous Manhattan structures including the Time-Life Building – and opened in 1966. Its lavish foyer is dominated by five huge, arched windows giving way to two large modernist murals by painter Marc Chagall named The Triumph of Music and The Sources of Music and illuminated by several dramatic Swarovski crystal chandeliers, while its grand six-level auditorium has premiered many modern operas including John Corigliano and William Hoffman’s The Ghosts of Versailles and Philip Glass’s The Voyage.