Live theatre is an ancient and global tradition. Often one of the stars of the show is the theatre itself. So, in honour of World Theatre Day, we bring you our picks for the best venues for live performances. No matter what show you catch, each of these theatres will serve as a memorable backdrop for its own reason.
Best outdoor venue
Minack Theater, Porthcurno, Cornwall, England
What started out as a small, private residence where the local theatre group was allowed to put on Shakespeare performances has turned into one of the most breathtaking places to witness a production. The granite stage stretches beyond the cliffs and hangs over the ocean, allowing for the perfect backdrop to any warm-weather performance.
Best authentic Greek amphitheatre
Herodes Atticus, Athens, Greece
The original Odeon of Herodes Atticus was built in 161 AD by a wealthy Greek aristocrat, in memory of his wife, but the amphitheatre was destroyed nearly 100 years later. The theatre was reconstructed in the 1950s to represent traditional marble odeons and has since become an iconic venue for performers. Located in the heart of Acropolis, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus is the perfect outdoor venue where modern music meets an ancient atmosphere.
Most iconic theatre
Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia
No skyline shot of Sydney is complete without the white fanned shells of the Sydney Opera House along the harbour. Designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon and reminiscent of expressionist architectural style, the Sydney Opera House was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. With multiple performance spaces inside, there are constant shows to catch here year round.
Best theatre to witness the legacy
Teatro alla Scala, Milan, Italy
Few theatres have had as many famous performers as La Scala over the last 200 years. Built in 1776, La Scala is packed with history, including famous composers Rossini, Toscanini, Puccini and Verdi who have all conducted there. Early December usually kicks off La Scala’s performance calendar, and, with a world-class chorus, orchestra and ballet company, the schedule fills up fast.
Best theatre for Shakespeare
Shakespeare’s Globe, London, England
Though not the original Globe Theatre associated with the renowned Shakespeare, this reconstructed Elizabethan playhouse is as close to authentic Shakespeare as one can get today. This unique establishment was built in the true style of its original predecessor; no structural steel and thatched roof. If Shakespeare isn’t your thing but you’re still in it for the experience, the venue puts on a variety of other productions, too.
Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires, Argentina
The expansive and lavish Teatro Colon took almost 28 years to be built and is considered one of the five best concert venues in the world based on its impressive acoustics. An iconic establishment in Buenos Aires, Teatro Colon recently underwent renovations and it’s now popular for visitors to come here for a glimpse of the extravagant interior without even seeing a show. But if you do want to catch a performance, ballet, opera and concert productions are scheduled consistently throughout the year.
Best mix of modern and classical
Carnegie Hall, New York, N.Y., United States
Originally built in 1891, Carnegie Hall was intended for use by the Oratorio Society of New York and the New York Symphony Society; however, it hasn’t had a resident company since the early 1960s. A popular destination for famed classical composers, Carnegie Hall has become a hot spot for all genres of music from jazz to rock to hip hop.
Top theatre for ballet
Bolshoi Theater, Moscow, Russia
A beloved Moscow establishment, located in the city’s centre, the Bolshoi Theater is represented on the Russian 100-note ruble and has been renovated several times for war damages, acoustic maintenance and interior conservation. The resident Bolshoi Ballet Company is one of the world’s largest and most renowned, despite recent allegations of corruption. Because of the theatre’s significance as a cultural symbol of Russia, performances here can be significantly more expensive than they are at other theatres.
National Centre for Performing Arts, Beijing, China
This vast, space-aged performance hall, known informally as “The Egg,” is reminiscent of the manmade lake that surrounds it. Located in a more traditional part of the city, the theatre establishes an interesting contrast between old and new. The dome is made up of titanium and glass, and the venue houses three separate halls – music, opera and theatre – and holds up to 5,000 people.
Best modern venue
Harpa, Reykjavik, Iceland
Built in 2011, this edgy, contemporary and attractive concert hall stirred serious controversy as a waste of money during Iceland‘s recession. Originally part of a greater development plan, Harpa is the most noticeable structure in Reykjavik’s port, made up of steel and multi-colored glass panels. And its interior is just as modern as its exterior with intricate lighting and a top-of-the-line acoustics set up.
(Main image: Bahman Farzad)