The Opernhaus Zürich (Zurich Opera House) is more than just another gorgeous historic building where people dressed in their finest go to watch a show in a foreign language! Zuri Girl went behind the scenes at the Zurich Opera House and found out that, like any good performance, there is more than meets the eye.
5 Reasons to Visit
1. They offer so much. Although it’s officially an “opera house”, it could really be called the Music House, Ballet House or Theater House. Each year the Zurich Opera House offers 11-12 opera premieres (including world premieres), 3-4 ballet premieres and everything else in between. Performances come in a variety of styles (classic, modern, Baroque) and languages (German, English, Czech, Italian, French, Russian). Sometimes the entire performance is written and produced by opera house team members. No wonder it was awarded Best Opera Company of the Year in 2014 at the International Opera Awards.
2. There is more than one stage. The Studio and independent Bernhard Theater stages are used for rehearsals, some performances, panel discussions, choreography demonstrations and other special engagements. Most events on these stages are open to the public and coincide with what is scheduled to take place on the main stage. It’s a great way to learn more about the performing arts and get an intro to the “main act”.
3. They offer a break from the daily grind. Looking for some culture during your work week? The lunchtime concerts at the opera house and lunch (or dinner) from the Belcanto Restaurant & Bistro are a perfect combination! You can even eat at the bistro and enjoy the terrace without seeing an opera house performance.
4. The acoustics are top notch. Keep in mind that performers never use a microphone when on stage. That is their voice straight from their well-trained vocal chords. Amazing!
5. They have special events. Every year the opera house has a quasi open air performance free for all to attend (on June 18 they’ll show Pique Dame by Pjotr Tschaikowski), an open day (September 12), an Opernball to revival Vienna’s, and a New Year’s Eve gala.
Bonus reason to visit: While you would assume that the opera house is a protected historical site, we were surprised to learn that the circa 1960s bistro near the Garderobe in the opera house and the terracotta colored office building next door, circa 1980s, are also protected historical sites. All structures are wonderfully preserved.
Zuri Girl Tips
Read up on the work beforehand so that you have a better idea about the storyline. To help you along, subtitles in German and English are always shown during the performance.
Bring two pairs of shoes. The coat room isn’t just about coats and jackets. Many Zuri Girls come in one pair of shoes and then change into their “opera shoes” in the Garderobe.
Go from your car to your opera seat without going outside. When you park in the public Parkhaus Opera, there is an elevator straight from the parking garage to the box office. No risk of getting wet or cold! Oh and check out the exhibit of ancient ruins they found when building the parking garage.
Cut the line by ordering your drinks and snacks in advance. Belcanto Restaurant & Bistro can be found in the foyer 45 minutes before the start of a performance to accept intermission orders. During intermission, your order will be ready and waiting with your name on it.
Visit the “secret” balcony. Everyone knows the balcony facing Sechselaeutenplatz, but if you go up a floor, there are two more balconies on the sides of the opera house and are often a lot less crowded. One has the most amazing view of the Burkliplatz and the lake.
You can rent costumes created by the opera designers! Visit their workshop at Binzmühlestrasse 210 in Oerlikon on Wednesdays from 10:00-14:00. Call (044 313 29 03) or email (email@example.com) with questions.
Zuri Girl Ashley Ringger of Set Sails Media regularly contributes fun and insightful articles about life in Switzerland.
In her spare time, she likes to stay active by going to the gym, doing yoga or paddling board, travels and cooks with friends. She also can’t say no to a good film!
Photos: Courtesy of Opera House. Photographer: Dominic Büttner