Grand Theatre - National Opera - Warsaw
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One of the must-see buildings in Warsaw, if just for the 'wow' factor, must be the Grand Theatre and Polish National Opera. Its magnificent classical façade, dating back to 1833, is the only original part to have survived World War II, but the post-war restoration and modernisation completed in 1965 made it one of the most spectacular and well-equipped theatres in Europe.
As an institution, the Grand Theatre has probably done more to represent Polish cultural life than any other; in its 180-year history it has overseen partition, occupation, destruction and, finally, freedom. During all this time, Polish drama, opera and ballet were able to continue and often flourish. The imposing building houses an opulent 1,800-seat auditorium named after Stanislaw Moniuszko, the father of Polish opera, the 248-seat Emil Mlynarski Auditorium and the National Museum, which is Poland's only theatre museum.
The season runs from October until the end of June and features daily (except Mondays) performances of opera and ballet. The repertoire encompasses works by Polish composers, but also includes classics from Beethoven, Bizet, Mozart, Prokofiev, Rossini, Tchaikovsky, Verdi and Wagner, among others.
At night, the exterior of the building is floodlit, and its commanding location on Plac Teatralny (Theatre Square) in the heart of Warsaw make it a compulsory addition to any visitor's photo collection. Venture inside and you'll be rewarded by a supremely elegant interior that more than matches the world's finest opera houses.