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Stage Door:020 7240 1200

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History

Originally named the Theatre Royal, the Royal Opera House has existed since the 18th Century, with the first site built in 1732, making it one of the oldest theatrical locations in Europe.

The Opera House first opened in 1734 with a ballet. George Frideric Handel’s operatic seasons began just a year later, with many of his famous pieces written especially for the Covent Garden venue. Handel’s seasons included early showings of Atlanta (1736) and Bernice (1737).

Alongside operas, the venue was largely used as a playhouse, with shows often running in rep with the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

The theatre has been twice destroyed by raging fires; first in 1808 and again in 1857. Between the two fires the theatre was rebuilt and mainly housed operas, ballets and pantomimes.

After the theatre was destroyed by fire again, the third and final theatre was built in 1958, official taking the name of the Royal Opera House in 1892. Things ran smoothly at the theatre for just over 20 years until the outbreak of World War I, when the theatre was used as a furniture repository.

The theatre has a brief active period in peacetime between the wars however it was soon converted to a dance hall throughout the World War II.

After an agreement laid out by the Covent Garden Opera Trust, the Royal Opera House was re-established with a production of The Sleeping Beauty (1946), and the first production from the Covent Garden Opera Company, Carmen (1947). Both the ballet company and the CGOC were to become the Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera in 1968.

The theatre was largely renovated and reconstructed, reopening in 1999. Since the turn of the millennium, the theatre has continued to act as its own producing house, with the Royal Opera House’s first ever West End transfer, The Wind in the Willows, which runs at the Duchess Theatre throughout the winter of 2013/14.