The Hanoi Opera House Opens for Tourists

By: John Brooksbank

Customised tours featuring the historic French Renaissance architecture and ornate style of the Hanoi Opera House are now being promoted by the National Administration of Tourism at very reasonable cost. A chance to learn about the architecture and history of this wonderful building and watch a live performance of Vietnamese folk plays literally from a box seat!

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The Opera House Opens Its Doors

The National Administration of Tourism in Vietnam has announced that, from June 2017, the Hanoi Opera House will be the centrepiece of two new experiences for visitors; one a stand-alone event in this amazing edifice and the other as the climax of a tour that also takes in the Old Quarter and the National Museum of History.

Both are bargains at 120,000VND ($5) and 400,000 VND ($18) respectively, including audio guides to the architecture and history of the building and, seated in upper-storey box seats with a grand view of the stage, viewing of a live performance of a selection of folk plays presented by representatives of leading Hanoi theatre troupes.

A Time-Honoured Piece of Architecture

Modelled on the Opera Garnier de Paris, the Hanoi Opera House was constructed over ten years between 1901 and 1911, at the height of colonial administration. The French ancestry of this magnificent building is hard to hide, with its grand neoclassical architecture, Grecian pillars and Gothic style doors, topped off with stylish lead grey domes.

If it wasn’t for the cavalcade of overloaded motorcycles travelling along Le Thanh Tong Boulevard at the base of its front steps, one could be forgiven for thinking that you were in downtown Paris.

Ultra grand in its day, with a 24-square-metre auditorium and a seating capacity of 598, the theatre is modest by modern standards, but this is more than made up for by its authentic style – Italian marble floors, glittering chandeliers and amazing ceiling murals. Entering the lobby is like stepping back in time.

Once the preserve of French officials and wealthy Vietnamese, the Hanoi Opera House hosted internationally acclaimed Western artists and musicians. Today one is more likely to see domestic artists and more modern music as well as art shows, concerts and dance performances.

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So why not take a break and spend some time in this Hanoi landmark, just a few minutes’ walk from the centre of the Old Quarter – catch some culture and perhaps a symphony!

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