Hanoi Opera House is the largest theatre in Vietnam and it was constructed in French style during the time when Vietnam was part of France’s Indochina colony.
Hanoi Opera House is in constant use today hosting performances of Western opera, ballet, Vietnamese opera and a modern circus style of Vietnamese folk performance scheduled frequently for tourists giving them the opportunity to see the inside of the Opera House whilst enjoying an accessible stage show.
About Hanoi Opera House
Hanoi Opera House took ten years to construct. Construction began in 1901, a year after Saigon Opera House opened.
Difficulties in Building the Opera House
There are three reasons why the opera house took so long to construct. Firstly, because it was built on swamp land. 300 workers were employed in the building of the foundations of the opera house using concrete blocks and bamboo poles to create a base sufficiently robust to bear the weight of an estimated 12,000 sqm of concrete and further 600 tons of iron and steel. Secondly, the opera took a long time to build because its very large: 34 metres tall, 87 metres long and 30 metres wide. Thirdly, the opera house has a lot of elaborate features.
Design of the Opera House
Hanoi Opera House is largely based on the famous Palais Garnier and whilst not as richly decorated inside and out as the Paris Opera, the work which was done was made all the more difficult because of its location so far from Paris; materials and skilled labour had to be shipped from Europe and then function properly in the moist tropical heat.
Historical Importance of the Opera House
Since the time of it construction Hanoi Opera House has played an important role in Vietnam’s national history. Hanoi Opera House was originally somewhere that only Europeans and a small number of the Vietnamese elite ever attended. Following the departure of the French colonial government, the opera house was the setting for important events in the new Communist era of Vietnam. Notably the first session of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam National Assembly was held in the opera house on the 5th March 1945.
Renovation of the Opera House
More recently, Hanoi Opera House has been renovated. The exterior of the building has been restored and returned to its original appearance which had degraded over time due to the effects of the local climate. The interior of the building has, by contrast, been modernised. The number of seats in the auditorium has been reduced from 870 leather seats to 589 velvet seats for increased comfort. Work has also been done to the air-conditioning, electrics and acoustics of the building to ensure that Hanoi Opera House can continue as a functional performance space well into the 21st Century and hopefully beyond.
Location of Hanoi Opera House
Hanoi Opera House is located 2.1 km by road from Hanoi Railway Station.