State Opera House
When walking down Andrássy Boulevard (Budapest’s longest road – and it’s most grand!) one should not miss visiting the Opera House. It’s certainly the most striking sights on the boulevard, and possibly even one of the most beautiful buildings in the country. It was built in neo-renaissance style during the reign of Franz Joseph.
As you may know, there was a time when Hungary was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire – and so the country belonged to Austria. During that period, Franz Joseph was both the Austrian emperor and the Hungarian king at the same time. So he ordered an Opera House to be built in Hungary so royalty and the commoners could enjoy a bit of culture. However, as part of his order, he stipulated that the building can’t be bigger than the Opera House in Vienna.
And so it is not – but it does have better acoustics. In fact, the Hungarian State Opera House has the second best acoustics in Europe (after the Scala in Milan), and the fifth best in the world. This really makes us Hungarians proud. The building itself is gorgeous outside and inside. In the main hall, there is a marble staircase which was constructed for Sissi (Queen Elizabeth), the wife of the emperor.
The marble statues of world-famous composers decorate the top of the building, and in the middle of the top, one can also read the sign: Ferenc József király (meaning: Franz Joseph was the king). At the base of the building, two other marble statues stand. The one on the left represents Ferenc Erkel, the first director of the Opera House, and on the other side, we can see the statue of Franz Liszt, who was a world-famous composer with Hungarian roots.
There are opera, operetta and ballet performances several times a week in the evening – as well as Sunday afternoon programs. The tickets are incredibly cheap so as to encourage visitors from all walks of life. Don’t worry about dressing up super elegant, casual dress is sufficient.
On the other side of the Boulevard stands the former Ballet Institute. It was built near the same time, in French Renaissance style. The link between the two buildings is that the dancers practised their dances in the Ballet Institute and then performed it at night at the Opera House on the other side of the road.
Repertoire and tickets
This year we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the 1956 Revolution, in this occasion: there were special programs as well.