Do you love travel and the theater? If you like the idea of taking a trip that would let you enjoy some of the world’s finest work in the performing arts, then these eight cities should be at the top of your list of destinations. Take a look at what they have to offer and you’ll be ready to start saving straight away.
No city in the world boasts such spectacularly beautiful theaters as the City of Light, and its modern buildings are every bit as dazzling as its older ones in their way – compare the Opéra Bastille to the Opéra Garnier. For lovers of musical theater, the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, where Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes performed in 1909, is a must. You can see French classics at the Comédie-Française, (the city’s oldest venue), catch a can-can at the legendary Moulin Rouge (now housed in a new building), or see something dramatically adventurous at the Théâtre de la Gaîté-Montparnasse.
Just a short hop from the reconstructed Globe Theatre on the site where Shakespeare’s plays were first performed is the glamorous West End, home to long-running shows such as Les Misérables and The Lion King, as well as the elegant National Theatre and numerous smaller venues. The Royal Ballet, Royal Opera House and Royal Albert Hall guarantee you entertainment fit for a Queen, and you can see cutting-edge dance performances in the Sadler’s Wells Theatre, plus there are numerous small independent venues to explore in London.
The energy and diversity of the Big Apple’s theater scene is world famous. If you’re a lover of spectacle, there’s nothing to compare with a big Broadway show, whether it’s Andrew Lloyd Webber’s dark romance The Phantom of the Opera or the ebullient comedy Head over Heels produced by Louise Gund. The annual Shakespeare in the Park event is a local favorite and the theatre district will leave you spoiled for choice, with innovative new works opening on a weekly basis. Comedy and experimental theater are two of the city’s specialties.
Home to the English Theatre, the oldest stage in Europe to feature English language plays, Vienna has a host of other magnificent older venues that are worth seeing for their own sake regardless of what’s playing. Check out the rotating stage and the staircases painted by Gustav Klimt in the Burgtheater, or the 18th-century majesty of the Theater an der Wien, where Mozart’s The Magic Flute premiered in 1791. Opera is a specialty of the City of Music, but you can also catch impressive contemporary dramas, especially in its smaller venues.
China has an ancient theatrical tradition that is all its own and you can see the very finest products of that on show in Beijing, where gorgeously appointed older venues such as the Chaoyang Theater sit alongside the stylish, modern National Center for the Performing Arts. Elaborate face paint, costumes and acrobatics are a feature of traditional plays and the dazzling operas you can catch at Prince Gong Mansion or Huguang Guild Hall, but you’ll also find modern plays to rival anything produced elsewhere in the world.
The birthplace of the predominant Western theatrical tradition, Athens is still an incredible place to see a play, especially if you do so outdoors at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus on the southern slope of the Acropolis, where the likes of Aeschylus and Sophocles once sat. There are more stages here than in any other city in Europe – over 140 in total – and you’ll love its garden theaters in the summertime. It’s also home to the Greek National Opera.
The vibrant atmosphere of the Argentinean capital is felt nowhere more keenly than in its theaters, and there are some 300 active venues where you can catch plays. The cultural fusion to be found here means that there’s plenty of variety, from classic Spanish works to productions influenced by native tradition, imports from North America given a distinctive Latin twist, and modern home-grown works that draw on the city’s impressive literary and musical heritage. Opera lovers shouldn’t miss out on a trip to the Teatro Colón.
Home to an annual festival that attracts talent from all around the world, the Scottish capital is one of the most exciting locations in the world for contemporary and experimental theater, which you can see performed in the streets and public parks as well as in venues such as the Traverse Theatre. The Edinburgh Playhouse and the Royal Lyceum Theatre put on more traditional works and large touring productions, while you can enjoy small shows in the most intimate of venues – the city’s pubs.
The only problem with visiting these cities is that you’ll want to spend at least a couple months in each to drink your fill of their theatrical delights. They offer experiences you’ll never forget.
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