The Hungarian State Opera House is one of the top attractions in Budapest, Hungary. The Opera House can be one of the highlights of your visit to Budapest:
‘Operahaz’ is regarded one of the most beautiful opera houses in Europe by many travellers and opera goers. Budapest Opera House was modelled after the Opera House in Vienna, and its historic interior is still intact as you can see in the photos.
Even if you are not into operas or classical ballets (Magyar Opera House is also home for ballets), you can enjoy the sheer beauty of the neo-renaissance 19th century building itself. Or you can take a nice cool rest from the heat and all day walking in Budapest. 🙂
Guided Tours at Budapest Opera House
There are daily tours (also in English) starting at 3pm and at 4pm in multiple languages. The interior of the Opera House can only be seen and fully appreciated in guided tours. But if time allows, probably the best idea is to book the cheapest opera tickets (about 2-3 euros) for an opera or ballet, and take in the whole atmosphere.
The repertoire of Budapest Opera (see an example below) consists of international and Hungarian classical as well as modern operas. In the middle of August there is a two-week opera and ballet festival in Budapest Opera, otherwise the Opera House is closed for the summer. Note: In addition to the operas in the Hungarian State Opera House, there are live broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera in Urania Cinema, Budapest (another fascinating building, don’t get misled by the word ‘cinema’ it is more like a theatre, which it actually used to be).
You can take a virtual tour in Budapest Opera House here.
Address: 22 Andrassy Avenue Budapest H-1061, District VI
How to Get to the Opera House? the M1 yellow metro line, which runs under Andrassy Avenue between Deak Square and Heroes’ Square, has an M1 metro station called ‘Opera’ (or simply walk about 15 min on Andrassy Avenue from Deak square, where all the metro lines meet)
Phone: +36-1-332-7914 (box office phone number is +36-1-353-0170)
E-mail: jegy [at] opera.hu, ticket [at] opera.hu
Opening hours of Budapest Opera House:
Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. until the beginning of the performance (or until 5 p.m. on days when there is no performance);
Sunday and holidays from 4 p.m. until the beginning of the performance
Tickets for the Opera
Note: the cheapest (2-3 euro) tickets are way up high in the Opera House, and you will need to climb many stairs to get to your seats (and enter from the side street). Also note that while the cheap tickets are really cheap, the buffet prices are high.
If you only wish to take a look at the building, there are two options. The budget option is to buy a 2-3 euro ticket for a performance, look around, relax a bit and then leave in the interval (if you don’t like the opera or ballet performance). The other option is to join a professional guided tour.
The tickets for the afternoon guided tours (only from 3 to 4pm) are affordable (about 12 euros). Most tourists liked the one hour tour in Budapest Opera, but some tourists felt that the tour was too fast, rushing through the building and not having enough time to take photos (which you need to buy an extra pass for). Another complaint is that guided tours are simultaneously going on in many languages and some tourists found it difficult to concentrate and hear their own guide. One really unsatisfied visitor remarked “The tour comprises sitting for about 5 minutes in the auditorium, being shepherded into and out of “Sissy’s box”, parlour and stairwell and the ante-room to the emporer’s box. That’s it. Most of the time is spent being herded around” And another tourist said “2 tours each afternoon in about 5 or 6 different languages–you go to the sign for your language. The guides are very knowledgeable and enthusiastic. You see the theater, stage, Emperor’s box and changing room, etc. Interesting and enlightning tour.” Nevertheless, even not so satisfied tourists recommend taking the tour in Budapest Opera House.
Useful tips from fellow travellers:
“If you sit at the top the side sections (all rows) all have awful views. The middle section looked fine. If you sit in the top section you do have to enter by a side door and have a lot of steps to climb. You cannot enjoy the lovely main entrance. […] It is a beautiful opera house and the experience was very worthwhile. We only stayed until the interval because the seats were so bad but we thought the money was well spent to enjoy the house at its best.” (tourist feedback on TripAdvisor)
“Try getting to the outside terrace during intermission. It’s great for people watching both on the terrace and on the street below.”
“Our seats were terrible – we could barely see anything – but we didn’t want to spend too much money. It was just amazing to be there and take in the surroundings and listen to the music. I would go again!” (tourist feedback on TripAdvisor)
“Not to miss if you are visiting Budapest. A very well organized tour will take you inside the opera house and highly recommended. If possible, catch a show. It’s very affordable. Tickets only cost £1- £47. The best acoustic in the world after La Scala” (tourist feedback on TripAdvisor)
More about Budapest Opera House
The Opera House was built between 1875 and 1884. The neo-renaissance building was designed by Miklos Ybl, one of the most famous and talented Hungarian architects in the 19th century (at that time in the Austro-Hungarian empire – notable conductors included Gustav Mahler from 1888 to 1891).
Before you enter the glittering building you will see sphynxes and two statues of Hungarian composers flanking the main entrance (Franz Liszt, and the patriotic Ferenc Erkel, who also wrote the Hungarian national anthem). Once inside the Opera House, you will find yourself in an enchanted jewel box – gold, glitter and glamour characterize the interior, which is richly decorated with frescos (the frescos were made by Bertalan Szekely, Mor Than and Karoly Lotz) and statues of great composers like Mozart, Verdi, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, etc.. The motifs often depict Greek musical references (e.g. the muses). The auditorium has 4 tiers (the higher you sit the less you pay), and there are about 13oo seats available (yet most visitors remark how nicely intimate the whole atmosphere is!).
The Repertoire of Budapest Opera House
A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Mendelssohn, F. / Seregi L.
Aida – Verdi
Anna Karenina – Tchaikovsky – Pártay L.
Carmen – Bizet
Cosi fan tutte – Mozart
Die Fledermaus – Strauss
Don Pasquale – Donizetti
Il barbiere di Siviglia – Rossini
In the Vortex – Der Tod und das Mädchen – Schubert, F. / North, R.
La jeune fille et l’amour – Mahler, G. / Naisy, M.
Wie lange noch? – Weill, K. / Pastor, K.
On the Nature of Daylight – Richter, M. / Dawson, D.
Vortex – Glass, P. / Lukács A.
La Bohéme – Puccini
La Cenerentola – Rossini
La fille mal gardée – Hérold, F. / Ashton, F
La Traviata – Verdi
Le nozze di Figaro – Mozart
Macbeth – Verdi
Madama Butterfly – Puccini
Parsifal – Wagner
Rigoletto – Verdi
Romeo and Juliet – Prokofjev, Sz. / Seregi L.
Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs – Kocsák T. / Harangozó Gyula
Tannhäuser – Wagner
The Karamazovs – Rachmaninov, S. / Eifman, B.
The King’s New Clothes – Gyorgy Ránki
The Nutcracker Tchaikovsky / Vajnonen, V.
The Taming of the Shrew – Karoly Goldmark / Hidas F. / Seregi L.
Tosca – Puccini, G.
Turandot – Puccini, G.
Giselle – Adam, A. / Aliev, E.