|Royal Opera House
Bow Street WC2E 9DD
|The Royal Opera, The Royal Ballet
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
|Map ©Silvermaze Ltd 2008||Photo ©Tony Reading 2008|
The Royal Opera House
is the third building on this site dating from 1858 and
was extensively refurbished in the 1990's. It is often refered to simply as
in theatre listings. It is the home of The
Royal Opera, The Royal Ballet and The
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House.
For current information on the extensive & varied repertoire of Opera and Ballet performances and other productions - and to book Click Here
The site of Covent Garden's Opera House was originally a nunnery attached to the Abbey of Westminster.
John Rich built the first theatre. He had succeeded to a patent originally granted to Sir William Davenant by Charles II to build a theatre "..wherein tragedies, comedies, plays, operas, music, scenes and all other entertainments of the stage whatsoever may be shown and presented"
The first theatre was opened on December 7th 1732 showing the 'Way of the World' by Congreve. Admission to the 55 boxes was 5 shillings (25 pence) half a crown (12 pence) to the 'pit' and the gallery cost one shilling (10 pence). A seat on the stage cost ten shillings. It was allowed to send servants to arrive at three to save places on the stage for their masters and mistresses. £115 was taken on the first night.
The fire of 1808 destroyed the theatre and the second one was built by Sir Robert Smirke. Three months after the fire Prince regent laid the foundation stone. It was much larger and was one of the largest in Europe. It was re-opened September 18th 1809 with a performance of Macbeth.
Opera goers enjoyed many seasons however between seasons the theatre put on many other forms of entertainment among which were the Promenade concerts of Jullien.
It ended at five to five in the morning of March the 5th 1856 with a fire that destroyed the theatre within half an hour - with no loss of life.
The third theatre took two years to re-build, funded by Frederick Gye. It was said that £100,000 was staked on the theatre not meeting the opening date. However those who doubted lost. It re-opened it's doors on May 15th 1858.
The evening at the opera cost the Victorian men of fashion about a pound. A verse in Punch defined a pound's value at the time as
"A pound dear father is the sum
Source - www.covent-garden.co.uk