Opera is a classical style of musical performance that dates back more than 400 years. Throughout its lifetime of many centuries, opera continues to remain relevant in the modern era. As it offers an impact to the arts programs in countries and cities all over the world, it brings an artistic impact to individuals and families, both young and old.
In celebration of this musical art form, World Opera Day acts as an international initiative to showcase the variety of ways that opera companies and their artists work to enrich the lives of individuals and communities.
History of World Opera Day
World Opera Day is a collaboration between three different organizations, including OPERA America, Opera Europe and Ópera Latinoamérica. The day is scheduled to be celebrated as a nod to the birthdays of two powerhouse composers in the world of opera and operetta music: Georges Bizet, who was born on October 25, 1838 and Johann Strauss II, whose date of birth was October 25, 1825.
This is a one-day event that builds on the legacy of OPERA America’s National Opera Week, which is a 10-year program established by the National Endowment of the Arts in celebration of the vibrancy of American opera.
World Opera Day takes place each year to provide an opportunity for administrators, artists, trustees and audiences from the opera industry to share their passion for opera to help make the world a better place! This includes sharing about local companies, offering insight into personal practices, and encouraging others to experience the art form themselves.
Each year, World Opera Day takes on a unique theme that encourages people to focus on a certain aspect of this art form. Previous themes have included ideas like Unboxing Opera (2022) and Opera Reboot (2021).
World Opera Day Timeline
Euridice is first performed
This earliest complete opera to survive is by Jacopo Peri and is performed in Florence, Italy.
The Marriage of Figaro debuts
This timeless classic by prolific composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart makes its first appearance in Vienna, Austria.
La bohème premiers
One of the most famous and well-known operas of all time, this Giacomo Puccini opera premiers in Turin, Italy.
The new New York Metropolitan Opera House opens
This Lincoln Center building is the home for the New York opera that has been functioning since 1883. It becomes the largest capacity opera house in the world.
First World Opera Day is launched
A collaboration between opera leaders in the world establishes the first celebration of World Opera Day.
How to Celebrate World Opera Day
World Opera Day offers a number of different opportunities to show appreciation for and celebrate opera and those who participate in it. Check out some of these ideas for observing the day:
Get Tickets to the Opera
One of the best ways to celebrate and show appreciation for World Opera Day is to go to the opera! Whether it’s a person who has never been before or someone who has season tickets every year, experiencing an opera is the perfect activity to schedule for this day. Those who don’t have a specific opera house in their city might catch a show that is traveling through, or perhaps make a little trip out of it and head to a larger city that offers opera. Grab a friend, family member or fellow opera lover and enjoy making a big deal out of the experience!
For those who aren’t sure if they really like opera or not, perhaps it would be a good idea to start with one that is a bit less intimidating. Check out this list of a few operas that might be good for beginners:
- The Magic Flute by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, written in 1791
- The Barber of Seville by Giacochino Rossini, premiered in 1816
- Carmen by Georges Bizet, his final piece was written in 1875
- La bohème by Giacomo Puccini, dating back to 1895
Become an Opera Supporter
Whether buying season tickets to the local opera house or joining up with a national organization, World Opera Day is a great time to get involved and connected in support of this amazing form of musical artistry. Some folks might be interested in becoming a member of OPERA America. This organization was founded in 1970 as a collaboration between twenty different opera companies in the United States and it now has membership of more than 600 organizations.
Membership in OPERA America is available to organizations or individuals who volunteer, work or simply enjoy the experience of opera from the audience. Members can receive benefits such as access to resources, discounts and connections within the opera world, with the intent of moving opera forward in the present and into the future.
Visit a Famous Opera House
Those who are big fans of opera and architecture may want to consider visiting some famous opera houses in honor of World Opera Day. With options for amazing opera houses on every continent, and thousands of them all over the world, there’s a ton of opportunity to experience something wonderful! Consider a visit to one of these famous places:
- La Scala in Milan, Italy. Probably the world’s most famous opera house, this one dates back all the way to 1778 and it seats more than 2000 people.
- Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. This famed opera house is of a similar era, opened in 1966 but taking the place of its predecessor from the late 1800s. It’s largest capacity dedicated opera house in the world.
- Vienna State Opera House in Austria. Performances have been taking place on this stage for more than 150 years and its ornate Renaissance Revival style is incredibly ornate.
- Sydney Opera House in Australia. An iconic part of the landscape of the largest city in Australia, this building took 14 years to build and was finally opened in 1973. This one seats more than 5000, but is not dedicated solely to opera.
Listen to Some Opera Music
Even if it isn’t possible to attend a performance in celebration of World Opera Day, there’s nothing stopping people from enjoying a playlist of amazing opera music all day long! With the world of music accessible through online platforms such as Spotify or Apple Music, it’s easy to search and find a wide range of musical numbers and songs that will scratch that opera itch on this day.
Not sure where to begin? Check out some of these “must know” opera songs to get started:
- ‘O mio babbino caro’. This famous aria comes from Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi
- ‘Largo al factotum’. Better known as the Figaro aria, this one is from Rossini
- ‘Habanera’. A famous song by Bizet, this French aria is one of the catchy tunes from Carmen
World Opera Day FAQs
How many opera houses are there in the world?
More than 1100 opera houses and companies are located around the world, with the largest contingency existing in Europe.
Is Sydney Opera House a wonder of the world?
Though not officially a “wonder of the world”, Sydney Opera House is one of the most recognizable architectural structures and is one of the “7 wonders of Oceania”.
What is the biggest opera house in the world?
The Metropolitan Opera House located in New York City, USA, is the largest opera house in the world by capacity, which is 3975.
Can opera singers break glass?
Yes, technically and scientifically, the vibrations from an opera singer’s voice can shatter glass, but it is unlikely.
What is The Phantom of the Opera about?
This musical is based on the French novel by Gaston Leroux, about a masked figure who haunts the Paris opera house and falls in love with the soprano.