I love the opera and ballet. When I was younger, I used to dance ballet. I was not good enough to become a prima ballerina, but I did love the dance. My interest in opera started as a child, too. I used to read this big book of facts, and there was a hilarious tale about an unfortunate incident of the bouncing Tosca in one performance. (If you are interested in opera anecdotes, you should check Opera Spoofa’s website!)
We have a tremendous national opera in Helsinki, Finland, and I try to see as many performances as possible during the season. Unfortunately, I don’t have many friends that are interested in opera or ballet, so I usually go to see them solo. Because of that, I don’t find it awkward to go alone even when abroad. The opera is one of the places in the world where it doesn’t feel weird to be alone at all. People usually are so focused on the art and the performance that they don’t really give notice if you are alone or not (sometimes when you go to movies by yourself, you might feel that you get some looks).
And the good thing is, that the language is not a problem as it might be for theatre or even movies if you are in a country where movies are dubbed into the local language. In dance shows, there aren’t any, and operas are usually performed in Italian, German or French but have English subtitles literally everywhere.
So when I was visiting Oslo last February, and thinking what could a solo travelling gal do on a Friday night, I checked out Den Norske Opera & Ballett (the National Opera and Ballet) to see if there were any performances I could see. And there was; a few seats left for Onegin on the same night! Lucky me. So I bought the ticket online – obviously, I didn’t get a fantastic seat, but it was good enough (when I brought my eyeglasses with me, haha). You can find ticket information in English here.
The Oslo Opera House (Operahuset) is stunning. The building is in the Bjørvika neighbourhood of central Oslo, at the head of the Oslofjord. Its construction started in 2003 and was completed in 2007. The Opera House has won the culture award at the World Architecture Festival in Barcelona in October 2008 and the 2009 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture.
I highly recommend participating in the guided tours of Oslo Opera House; you can find more information here. The tours are reasonably priced, 120 NOK for adults and 60 NOK for discount groups. You can also get a discount if you have the Oslo Pass. Even if you are not an enthusiastic opera fan, the architecture of the building is enough of a reason to attend a tour. However, you can visit the building for free and during the summer (or whenever it’s not too icy/snowy), you want to climb to its roof and marvel panoramic views of Oslo.
I was walking to the Opera House from my hotel. As I checked that the route wasn’t long, I decided to wear my high heels. So not the right decision in February in Oslo! The road was slippery and icy, and I feared countless times that I will fall and miss the show. I met a couple of adorable Spanish ladies on my way when I confirmed I was walking in the right direction. We all cursed high heels but made it to the shiny house in time.
Onegin was fantastic. I’ve actually never seen it live before. The Norwegian National Ballet has a very high artistic standard, and beyond the skilful dance, I enjoyed especially the costumes. The sad thing was that I was feeling quite tired. After having a glass of champagne during the recession, I had a hard time keeping my eyes opened – which was quite sad, because the ballet was so wonderful. Travelling can be exhausting sometimes, especially if one is not forever 21…
And to be honest, I decided to take a taxi to my hotel after the performance. Not because the walk would have been long but because I didn’t want to test my luck with high heels anymore. Taxis are quite expensive in Oslo, so I paid a fair amount of money from my short ride. My tip is to wear comfortable shoes for walking outside and take your fancy shoes with you to the opera, especially during winter! You can leave your garments in a free (unstaffed) cloakroom area. For more valuable items, small lockers are also available for a deposit of NOK 10.
Do you like to see opera, ballet, theatre, concerts or other cultural performances when travelling? What is the best show you have ever seen and where? 🙂