Lisbon’s opera house is the only Portuguese theatre especially dedicated to opera and ballet performances.
It opened more than two centuries ago, in 1793, after the former Opera do Tejo was destroyed by the great earthquake of 1755. The Neoclassical building is a National Monument.
Influenced by the great Italian opera houses, like Teatro di San Carlo of Naples destroyed by a fire in 1816, Lisbon’s opera house has a luxurious Rococo interior. The main room of elliptical shape includes a sumptuous royal box and a luxuriously decorated ceiling.
The theatre uses three distinct spaces for the different performances: the Sala Principal (Main Room) usually hosts grand lyrical productions, symphonic concerts and ballets; the Salão Nobre (Noble Room), which has access to the balcony, provides for recitals and opera readings; and the informal Foyer is usually chosen for free chamber concerts and short recitals. Guided tours are by advance reservation only.
However, you can enjoy the opera’s square at all times, where the Café Lisboa serves lunches, dinners and snacks, including the famous pastel de nata (custard tart), from noon to midnight.
Free outdoor performances, including opera, ballet and classical concerts, take place at the São Carlos Square during the summer months (usually late July) as part of the Festival ao Largo event.
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