Whether you’re an opera addict or a ballet buff, visiting a theatre district can be the perfect way to enrich your city break or holiday. We take a look at some of the world’s cultural nerve centres to find the best destinations for fans of all things theatrical.
Stylish and refined, this chic city is the perfect destination for cultural
connoisseurs, with its elegant opera houses and theatres. The fashionable Corso Como precinct is a great place to be seen enjoying a pre-performance aperitivo, and if you want to rub shoulders with the cultural elite, La Scala will provide an opulent setting in which to enjoy a bit of Puccini or Verdi. The Milanese are among the best-dressed in Europe, so be sure to wear your finest couture if you want to fit right in.
Theatre devotees are spoilt for choice in England’s capital, from blockbuster shows in the vibrant and bustling West End to Elizabethan drama brought to life at The Globe, or charming summer spectacles at the Regent’s Park open-air theatre. Why not take a tour of Theatreland, taking in the impressive Victorian facades while absorbing the history of these cherished playhouses in the heart of central London.
Every theatre aficionado dreams of the bright lights of Broadway, and in reality, New York is unlikely to disappoint. With a dazzling spectrum of shows, from the sparkle and pizzazz of smash-hit musicals to off-broadway plays in intimate venues to underground productions in ramshackle hideaways, there’s a rich selection for all tastes. Restaurant Row provides countless options for pre- and post-show refreshment, or sample the world-class fare at one of Times Square’s many diners.
Moscow’s bustling metropolis provides an abundance of enticing options for theatre-buffs, but none more tempting than the Bolshoi ballet. The sumptuous gilt-finished auditorium is the perfect setting for the works of the great Russian composers, with its astounding acoustic clarity and expansive neo-classical interior. The city boasts a wealth of highbrow arts activity, including the Academic Orchestra at the Moscow Conservatory and bohemian experimental performance at the Helikon Opera theatre.
Victoria’s capital has much to offer theatre-wise, from the art deco playhouses of the Theatre District to the progressive cultural nucleus of the Arts Precinct on the Southbank of the Yarra River. The former is home to some of the city’s most beautiful Victorian buildings, whereas the latter is characterised by iconic modern architecture, punctuated with neon tubing, honeycomb mesh and bold designs. Or if you’re looking for something a bit more classical, head to the Royal Botanical Gardens for Shakespeare under the stars during the summer months.
The city of Mozart is bursting with cultural delights, including some of the finest arts festivals in the world. For standard cultural fare, head to the Salzburg County Theatre, but for something out-of-the-ordinary, try the Salzburger Marionettentheater for enchanting puppet performances of opera and Shakespeare or the Kleine Theatre for some cult cabaret.
Tokyo’s performing arts scene is scattered across the capital, but with so many unique theatre traditions, you’ll need plenty of time to experience it all. There’s the tiny fringe theatres hidden among the winding streets of Shimokitazawa, OperaCity in Hatsudai or jazz and comedy at Setagaya-ku’s Carrot Tower. Don’t miss the extravagant beauty of traditional Kabuki theatre, an elaborate and colourful visual feast accompanied by Japanese instruments. The grandest Kabuki theatre, Kabuki-Za, reopens in 2013.
The birthplace of drama, this lively capital is ideal for anyone interested in classical theatre. The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is one of the earliest preserved theatres and it continues to be used as a venue for performance. A spot of Sophocles or Euripides in this stunning setting is an absolute must for arts lovers, but if regional revelry is more your thing, visit the Dora Stratou Garden Theatre for some traditional folk entertainment.
The City of Lights offers an eclectic mix of theatre from the conventional to the avant-garde. With some of the most iconic theatres in the world — the Opera Bastille, La Comedie-Francaise and even the Moulin Rouge — there’s a wealth of choice that will whet any cultural appetite. The Theatre des Bouffes du Nord is an exquisite gem of a theatre near Gare du Nord station, frequently offering English plays.
Often referred to as the entertainment capital of India, Mumbai is a cosmopolitan blend of contemporary art and culture. The Prithvi Theatre is an intimate venue belonging to one of the most influential Bollywood families, and it’s the perfect place to grab an Irish coffee and scope out the local culturati. For a truly unforgettable experience, head to the Horniman Circle Garden for open-air plays and concerts in English, Gujarati and Marathi.
Simon Hagger is CEO at Show and Stay.