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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.

Past Shows

L'elisir d'amore
(closed 22 Jun 2017)
Madama Butterfly
(closed 25 Apr 2017)
The Sleeping Beauty - Royal Ballet
(closed 14 Mar 2017)

Woolf Works
(closed 14 Feb 2017)
Il Trovatore
(closed 9 Feb 2017)
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The Nutcracker - Royal Opera House
(closed 12 Jan 2017)

les contes d'hoffman logo small
Les Contes d'Hoffmann
(closed 3 Dec 2016)
la fille mal gardee logo small
La Fille Mal Gardee - The Royal Ballet
(closed 22 Oct 2016)
cosi fan tutte logo small
Cosi Fan Tutte
(closed 19 Oct 2016)

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The Winter's Tale
(closed 10 Jun 2016)
Oedipe logo small
(closed 8 Jun 2016)
Frankenstein logo small
(closed 27 May 2016)