Sunday, 21 October 2012

Public Guided Tour of the Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera House - London
The Royal Opera House

I always wanted to tour the Royal Opera House let alone see either an opera or ballet. I recently had an opportunity to participate in tour but I had to book almost six months in advance beforehand because of popularity of the tours.

There are two tours one can choose either the Velvet, Glit and Glamour or the Backstage Tours. I chose the Backstage tour and the tour costs 10.50 gbp (December 2011)

The Royal Opera House is world famous for it's opera, ballet and orchestra. The complex covers approximately 2.5 acres and the tour gives an insight to what happens behind the stage. The site had a first theatre built in 1732 and there were two theatres on the site until the second one, was the largest opera house in the world, burnt down in 1856 (The first one burnt down in 1808). The theatre was rebuilt and opened in 1858 which is today the Royal Opera House. The Royal Opera and Royal Ballet were formed in the 1940s and was closed for two years between 1997 to 1999 for major refurbishments and modernisation.

The tour guide was very knowledgeable about the theatre and shared some facts including the huge lighting department - there are 40 full time lighting staff whom are responsible for 800 permanent features and the Orchestra Pit where it can house up to 100 musicians and the pit is retractable and cater to the varying acoustics appropriate for the shows.

As well as touring backstage, we were able to see some of the Royal Ballet dancers rehearsing; the historic front of house, Paul Hamlyn Hall with its mirrors and the workshop where stage scenery sets are created.

I thoroughly enjoyed the tour and would highly recommend it. It's strongly advised to book a tour in advance as these fill up very quickly. Please note that no photography is allowed on the tours but there are always photographic memorabilia available in its shop. 

I hope one season I can book to see either a ballet or opera there!

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