Top Opera Houses in Italy

Where to Go for Opera in Italy

Italy has a wealth of beautiful, historic opera houses, many still serving as theaters. Opera fans should try to visit at least one opera house and enjoy a live performance in Italy. The opera season is generally October through March or April but outdoor performances are held in the summer. Opera houses hold theater and dance performances at other times of the year, too, and some can be toured without going to a performance.

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    Milan, Piazza della Scala and Teatro alla Scala
    ••• Marco Brivio/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

    Teatro Alla Scala, the famous opera house in Milan, reopened in December 2004 after an extensive renovation. It has a bookshop, bar, and history museum, too. The original opera house, designed by neoclassical architect Giuseppe Piermarini, opened in 1778 and many famous operas were first performed here. La Scala was badly bombed during World War II but reopened in 1946 and quickly regained its reputation as a top Italian opera house.

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    La Fenice
    ••• By Youflavio (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

    La Fenice (the Phoenix) in Venice, is one of the most famous theaters in Europe. La Fenice first opened in 1792 but was twice badly damaged by fire. It has recently been renovated and reopened. La Fenice is in Venice's San Marco neighborhood.

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    The interior of Real Teatro di San Carlo (1737), Naples, Campania, Italy
    ••• De Agostini / R. Pedicini / Getty Images

    The Teatro di San Carlo in Naples is the oldest opera house in Italy, founded in 1737. Some of the first ballet productions were also performed here during the opera intermissions. Opera, ballet, and short comic opera are still performed at Teatro San Carlo. A museum is in the planning stage.

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    Teatro Comunale in Bologna
    ••• By Lorenzo Gaudenzi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

    The opera house in Bologna is one of the top theaters in Italy and also one of the oldest. It is a stunning example of 18th century baroque architecture. Located in the heart of Bologna's historic district, the Teatro Comunale di Bologna holds opera, musical, and symphony performances.

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    Theater, Teatro Massimo, Palermo, Sicily, Italy
    ••• Domingo Leiva / Getty Images

    Teatro Massimo in Palermo is the foremost opera house in Sicily as well as one of the finest in Europe. Its opening in 1897 signaled the beginning of Palermo's belle epoque. Year-round performances include opera, ballet, and music.

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    colonnade Teatro of Regio di Parma - opera house
    ••• VvoeVale / Getty Images

    Built in 1829, the neo-classical theater of Parma is rich in gold and stucco work. The theater holds opera, dance, and drama performances as well as concerts and special events.

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    Teatro Verdi in Pisa is one of the most beautiful theaters in central Italy. The 900-seat auditorium, inaugurated in 1867, has a beautiful ceiling fresco and today houses opera, dance, and drama performances.

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    Teatro Regio
    ••• Valerio Pennicino / Getty Images

    Teatro Regio, the prominent opera house in Piazza Castello, a beautiful square in Torino, was rebuilt in 1973. The original 19th century theater was destroyed by fire in 1936. It is a popular spot for musicals and plays as well as opera.

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    Teatro dell'Opera
    ••• By Jordiferrer (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

    Rome has a beautiful opera house and holds many classical dance concerts and opera performances there. In the summer, opera and dance performances are held in the ancient Baths of Caracalla, a spectacular setting for opera under the stars.

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    Arena di Verona, Italy
    ••• Emya Photography/Getty Images

    Although not an opera house, another fantastic historic setting for opera is the Arena di Verona, a restored Roman arena. The open-air opera season starts in June but there are sometimes other performances during the year.

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    Puccini Festival Theater
    ••• Martha Bakerjian

    The Puccini Festival is held in Torre del Lago Puccini, once the home of opera composer Giacomo Puccini, in July and August. The new outdoor arena is in a beautiful setting overlooking the lake.

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    Sferisterio, open-air theatre, Macerata, Italy, 19th century
    ••• De Agostini / C. Sappa / Getty Images

    The Sferisterio Opera Festival is held in an open-air arena in the countryside of Macerata, in central Italy's Marche region. Performances take place in July and August and often draw top-name performers.

Top Summer Music Festivals

For more top performance venues in Italy, see these popular summer music festivals. Going to a concert in an outdoor setting is one of the top summer experiences. Be sure to buy tickets in advance.