8 classic operas you need to see in London
Experience a unique night of entertainment in the West End with a trip to the opera. While it may be seen as a ‘higher form of art’, venues including the Royal Opera House and London Coliseum are home to revivals of beautiful operas that will whisk you away to another world. Embrace the very best of London’s opera scene with us and uncover a brand new operatic world.
Operas to see in London
Hansel and Gretel
The Grimms Brothers fairytale will be brought to life at Hansel and Gretel, playing at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre for a limited engagement. Follow Hansel and Gretel, two young children in Germany who live an ordinary life, however they quickly face extraordinary surroundings when they’re lured into a witch’s house. As she plans to eat the children, will the children be able to save themselves and others, or will they become the witch’s next meal? Hear the music by Engelbert Humperdinck come to life at an opera that’s filled with joy and drama.
Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs)
Based on the Beggar’s Opera, join Kneehigh company in Dead Dog in a Suitcase, a quirky opera filled with love songs where wit, wonder and weirdness come to the fore. Mayor Goodman has been assassinated. Contract killer Macheath has just married Pretty Polly Peachum and Mr and Mrs Peachum aren’t happy. As musicians and performers navigate this twisted morality tale of our times, it’s up to you to follow the story.
The Marriage of Figaro
One of Mozart’s well-known operas, The Marriage of Figaro will return to the London Coliseum next year. A comedy filled with mistaken identities and twists and turns, see what happens on Figaro and Susanna’s wedding day, where women are portrayed to be wiser and stronger than men. A psychologically complex story, join the congregation at the Coliseum and give three cheers to the new bride and groom.
Exploring relationships between the sizes with electrifying melodies by Georges Bizet, Carmen returns to the London Coliseum in 2020.
Carmen is a searing depiction of a woman who craves love, but creates obsession and jealousy. One of the most popular operas ever written, Bizet’s score is bursting with passionate melodies and includes such famous numbers as the ‘Habanera’, ‘Toreador’s Song’ and ‘Flower Song’. A fiery opera set in the heart of Spain, follow Carmen on a musical journey where love and emotions consume her every movement.
What happens when a tender kiss puts a knot in your stomach? In an opera filled with love, charm and unrequited bliss, Madam Butterfly is Puccini’s famous story that has gone on to inspire musicals such as Miss Saigon. When Cio-Cio San, a young Japanese girl, falls in love and marries American naval officer Pinkerton. Heading to the US before the birth of their son, Cio-Cio San and Pinkerton are forced apart, but will the pair be able to stay together?
As well as The Pirates of Penzance, Gilbert and Sullivan are known for their nonsensical opera The Mikado. When Nanki-Poo and Yum-Yum fall in love with each other, will they be able to please the law-makers who live around them, especially when Nanki-Poo should marry Ko-Ko? When the Mikado orders a beheading, Nanki-Poo and Ko-Ko try to come to an arrangement that doesn’t involve anyone losing their head! A crazy story filled with hilarity, you’ll want to see The Mikado at the London Coliseum in 2020.
Dvořák’s best-loved opera, Rusalka is inspired by myths and folk-tales about a water-nymph that chooses to become human to win her Prince. Featuring enchanting music including the hauntingly beautiful aria ‘Song to the Moon’, listen to Dvořák’s exceptional gift for melody and orchestration at this rarely performed opera.
Orpheus in the Underworld
Join a hedonistic party at Orpheus in the Underworld, where anything goes and everything can happen. When Eurydice is fooled into taking Pluto, ruler of the Underworld, he is stunned. With the help of glamourous yet gormless gods, convincing the underworld to assist isn’t going to be easy. Driven by his tragic fate, join Eurydice as he tries to get his wife back.
Want to read about an iconic opera house in London? Why not check out our guide to the Royal Opera House, filled with its history and past performances.