Saturday, June 19, 2010

Budapest Opera House

The Opera House in Budapest was built in the late 1800's in a Renaissance style.It is not the largest in Europe but it is said to have high quality acoustics and is one of the first few opera houses in the world.
The current approach to the Opera House has lost some of the elegance that was present when it was first built. Gone are the longer approaches and greenery, replaced with a bustling street and lots on concrete. However, the evidence of the grandeur is still apparent. There was the main entrance area with wrought iron lamps and stone sphinxes guarding the way as well as a private entrance for royalty. Even inside the dual approach to the auditorium was maintained.  
The entire building has been restored - and it is gorgeous. Everywhere you looked, paintings have been painted directly onto the walls as frescoes (the wall was "wet" when it was painted) or secco where the plaster was dry. Even the presence of a frame doesn't mean that it could be removed - countless paintings were done on the wall and a frame added to finish with. The details everywhere is unbelievable. The picture inside is taken looking up the stairway, catching one of the gold medallions that line the arches and a small fresco 3 stories up. Jeff took some great pictures - I'll add a photo album of our travels which will include more of these pictures. 
The auditorium itself was quite a bit smaller than I had anticipated. It holds around 1000 people but it doesn't look like it would. The seats are still older wooden seats and, I've been told, have an interesting air-conditioning system where outside air is directed under the seats! They have 3 layers of balconies with opera boxes and a huge one in the back for royalty, along with two smaller ones connected on the sides for the bodyguards to use. 
The opera house is used daily and, as we toured, the men were on stage setting up the set to be used that night. They don't do the same performance for a long period of time, they do a different performance every night!!! It means elaborate stage changes every single day.

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