Located in a beautiful park next to Riga’s canal, full of colourful flowerbeds and a beautiful fountain, stands the White House (Baltais Nams), a palace of music, art and culture. This is the home of the Latvian National Opera, where a visitor to Riga can enjoy highly professional ballet and opera performances. For opera buffs, or for those who have never been before, this is a great chance to see a fine performance for very reasonable price.
When the centre of Riga was redesigned back in the mid 1800’s the city planners chose this significant spot, next to the canal on the grounds of a former bastion of the city’s fortifications to build a theatre. In 1863 the First or German theatre, designed by architect Ludwig Bohnstedt, was opened. The facade of Opera House is in the classical style with six columns, reminiscent of a Greek temple. Atop the building is a sculpture of Apollo and various other deities, lower down is a lyre with two women on either side, symbolising tragedy and comedy.
In 1882 a leak in the gas lighting caused a fire, and a major part of the building was destroyed. Reconstruction was completed 5 years later and the gas lighting was replaced by electric lights. As this was one of the first building in Riga to adopt this new technology, a power station had to be built to supply power to the theatre. Though now long gone, the old chimney can still be seen on the left side of the main building.
The theatre changed its name to the Latvian National Opera (Latviajs Nacionālā Opera) in 1919. During the first period of Latvian independence many famous musicians, some of them were escaping Bolshevik terror in Russia, worked at Opera. Performances were of a very high artistic level. Upon regaining its independence from the Soviet Union, the Opera was one of the first buildings to be fully reconstructed, owing largely to the population’s love for music and art.
Today, The Latvian National Opera is continuing to offer very high quality performances. If you are looking for a nice way to spend an evening in Riga then a visit the Opera is a good option. Tickets can be purchased from the ticket sales office next to the Opera. Or purchased online through http://www.opera.lv/lv/
Below you can see an example of one of the performances at the Opera; “Anna Karenina” by Boris Eifman.