Our favorite opera, ballet, and concert experiences in Europe

The musical and performance arts have evolved over centuries and are currently changing so fast that new names for new arts come up so quickly it’s hard to even learn them. It is important to give a chance to newly appeared arts and artists to impress us. But it’s also important to try at least a few times in our lives the classical music and performance arts that have been entertaining people for the last few centuries. So let’s talk about opera in Europe.

When you live and travel in Europe, it’s not hard to witness those as almost every city and town has an opera house or a venue that hosts opera, ballet, and concerts. That’s why it was so hard for us to choose our favorite opera, ballet, and concert experiences in Europe. So let’s go with some European culture!

Inside Sofia opera and ballet

Nabucco in front of the Cathedral

We’ve enjoyed a couple of opera and ballet performances in the open air, as Sofia Opera and Ballet organizes those every summer in the National Defense Academy Park. Being able to contemplate beautiful music and dance in the fresh park atmosphere and in such an open space definitely brings more joy to the experience.

What we’ve never expected was that we can enjoy opera in the city center, right in the square next to the Alexander Nevski cathedral. So religious and architectural highlight becomes part of the set and part of the atmosphere. It was like the Babylonian king had arrived to visit Sofia.

Sofia Opera and Ballet, Nabucco in front of Alexander Nevski Cathedral

Dress up for Vienna

We had never ever dreamed to visit the Vienna State Opera (Wiener Staatsoper) before our first trip to Vienna. It was like becoming part of a fairytale. We booked tickets well in advance, and we prepared our prom dresses (really!) so we can keep up with the style of the venue and the event itself.

That night it was the Manon opera and it was amazing! We were in one of the very last rows and there were people standing the whole time, and even the standing tickets are not cheap in Vienna. This is what we call real opera culture. We’re blown away by the quality of the opera house, the setting, the architecture, the performance, the orchestra, and the visitors themselves! We highly recommend you try the Vienna Opera! Needless to say, it comes with the recommendation to try as many Viennese foodie indulgences!

Inside Vienna Opera house, Wiener Staatsoper

Maestro, Cava!

We were visiting Barcelona during Christmas days. So when we saw a classical concert in the Gran Teatre del Liceu, we couldn’t resist. It’s so amazing to go to a beautiful place and enjoy the beautiful sound to celebrate the holiday.

What we didn’t expect was the super artistic Maestro. Not only did he direct the orchestra like a classic pro, but also he used innovative techniques and practices. We were laughing our faces off just watching him act. At the end of the concert, he poured himself a nice glass of cava and turned to the audience to congratulate us on Christmas! That was the best and cutest version of Santa we’d never expected to meet in the opera house!

Spain, Barcelona, visit the opera for Christmas
Spain, Barcelona, visit the opera for Christmas

Unexpected concert in Warsaw

A lovely fresh summer, green parks full of musicians, Old Town full of smiles and artists – yes, that was Warsaw for us!

After a whole walk of stumbling through different smaller concerts and performances, we stumble upon the Zamek Królewski w Warszawie (The Royal Castle in Warsaw) where they organized a FREE classical music concert under a huge tent.

Vilnius immersed in sound

We’ve encountered many street musical festivals while traveling. But there’s nothing that can surpass the atmosphere of the Vilnius street music fest! Literally, every corner hosts a musician or a band and divine sound flows along the streets and mixes into a celebration of life, music, and happiness.

The festival also gives chance younger artists to perform. Sometimes you find a young string quartet playing classics, and after a short walk there’s this alternative band playing in the garden, and then right on the pedestrians street, you hear Metallica interpretations by accordion.

Musicians, bands, music festivals in Vilnius, Lithuania
Musicians, bands, music festivals in Vilnius, Lithuania

Behind the stage with Carmen

We’ve visited Sofia Opera and Ballet so many times we don’t even bother to count anymore. In partnership with them, we visited two ballets – Carmen and Rapsody in blue. The best part was the opportunity to go behind the stage and talk to the prima ballerina Dilyana Nikiforova who had just returned from maternity leave, in perfect shape and ready to conquer the stage. You can’t imagine the hard work and pain artists have to go through to dance so perfectly on stage.

There are so many people involved in a performance that we highly recommend you arrange a behind-the-stage tour if you want to appreciate the hidden beauty of an opera or a ballet performance. It’s like a complex mechanism of so many parts that work together in a symphony.

sofia opera and ballet
sofia opera and ballet, behind the stage

Ronda Guitar Festival

It is the chance that took us to Ronda in Andalusia during the annual Ronda Guitar Festival. We got recommended by a local, booked the tickets online on our way to Ronda, and then arrived to discover the festival is taking place at Santo Domingo Monastery in the heart of the town, near the famous 98-meter-high Puente Nuevo. The concert took place inside the chapel that combines Arabic, Gothic, and Renaissance styles.

The purity of sound was just overwhelming. We enjoyed classical and flamenco guitar performances. As the festival is quite prestigious, we knew it will be mesmerizing to listen to Diego Campagna (classical guitar, Italy) and to Luis Balaguer (flamenco guitar, Spain) – they left us breathless and longing for more. We highly recommend you listen to world-class musical performances in the secluded atmosphere of a chapel!

So, those were our top opera, ballet, and concert experiences in Europe! We’re looking forward to expanding that collection. Can you recommend to us an experience of that kind? Please do! Let us know in the comments below.

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8 Responses

  1. uoprincess
    |

    We heard some libretas in a random church basement in Rome. Quite an experience to remember.

  2. genxtraveler01
    |

    Wow!! All of this looks amazing for the Arts-lover!!

    • Absolutely! Also for those willing to give performance arts a chance, usually they fall in love with them after!

  3. Oh, I feel so jealous now! It’s been ages since I saw an opera, ballet or a theater play.

    • How’s the situation in India? Is it too complicated to visit an opera or ballet performance?

  4. Lovely read guys, we’ve got a few images of Sofia’s Cathedral (is St.Sofia?) from the early nineties was lovely to see it looking so alive. Thanks for the insight!

    • Thanks, Cheryl! The cathedral behind the stage is Alexander Nevski, but St.Sofia is super near it, too. You should return to catch up with all that’s changed since your last visit!