An offshoot of the classical music persuasion, opera is more than just a music genre – offering up a truly captivating experience for all. From its dramatic, emotive arias to the magnificent halls they reside in, there’s nothing quite like an evening at the opera. And Europe is home to some of the world’s most majestic, featuring opulent ornaments, stunning stages and beautifully immersive performances.
This Austrian winter wonderland is the perfect last-minute festive getaway for opera lovers. Salzburg is a city packed with musical mastery: The Sound of Music was set here, one of the most famous carols in the world, Silent Night, was written and composed in a small town nearby, and it’s also the hometown of Mozart – if anything, there’s almost too much history to explore! Held on the 16 and 23 December, the Christmas Opera Gala is one of the city’s most loved events over the festive season, featuring the works of the Nabucco: Prisoners Choir, the Brindis of La Traviata and the famous Nessun Dorma of Puccini´s Turandot. One night, head up to the majestic castle and attend a Best of Mozart Fortress Concert. Special advent performances have taken over for the festive season; dine with an incredible view over the snowy city and mountains before settling down for a charming Christmassy concert. It really is the most wonderful time of the year!
World class opera in Paris, France
Famous for its exhilarating mix of passion and art, it comes as no surprise that Paris offers some of the best opera around today. People travel from all over the world to see the Palais Garnier, which has now become one of the city’s most iconic monuments. First impressions are high, with a stunning, unobstructed view of the magnificent façade from the Avenue de l’Opéra. But when you step inside, you’ll be in awe of the breathtaking embellished mosaics and a gorgeously intricate painted ceiling. Surrounded by fellow audience members dressed to the nines, you’ll feel transported back to the extravagant 19th century. Walk up the winding marble staircase and to your seat and see the iconic bronze and crystal chandelier that took a key role in the Phantom of the Opera – make sure to go on a tour of the building during the day to find out more about the building’s incredible history. The productions themselves match the luxurious location – once those heavy red velvet curtains have been lifted, you can enjoy some stunning shows. If you have another night in the city, see a performance at Opera Bastille. The modern alternative has incredible acoustics so you can hear every word perfectly, no matter where you’re sat.
Bachfest in Leipzig, Germany
Bachfest is, as the name suggests, a festival based around the historic German composer and musician, Johann Sebastian Bach – and following its incredible success in previous years, you’ll want to get your tickets far in advance. Bach stayed in Leipzig for almost three decades, and the town has celebrated him most years for over a century. From 8–18 June, you can enjoy phenomenal music by a huge number of musicians from all over the world, set to this year’s theme of ‘Cycles’, which focuses on Bach’s desire to gather his works together into a tangible order. The highlight of this is sure to be the newly compiled Leipzig Ring of Cantatas performed by a number of groups, including the St Thomas’ Boys choir, who Bach conducted for more than 25 years. You’ll find around 40 sets dotted all over the city, in streets, cafes, bars, churches and even the train station. If you manage to find any time between performances, visit the both the Bach Museum and the Museum of Musical Instruments at the University, which are both full of fascinating information and interactive displays.