Hanoi Opera House – A Witness of Vietnamese History

A Famous Colonial Architecture of Vietnam's Capital

Rachel Tran
Rachel Tran | Published: October 11, 2019

Wandering around Hanoi, you may discover a number of yellow-painted buildings, which are of typical French architecture. Hanoi Opera House is one of the most appealing ones. Looked from outside, it is possibly unable to reach your expectation, however, there is more to this yellow construction than meets the eye. At the moment, The Hanoi Opera House is the biggest theatre in Vietnam, which is also considered as a historical and architectural landmark as well as attraction in Hanoi where a range of important events have taken place.

    Location: No.01 Trang Tien Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi.
    Opening hours: 10:30 AM every Monday and Friday.
    Capacity: 598 seats
    Entrance fee: 400,000 VND / person (50% discount for students)

Hanoi Opera House – Past And Present

Hanoi Opera House
Hanoi Opera House has neo-classical French architecture featuring Gothic themes. (@peaceloveandtravel12)

As soon as the French came to rule Vietnam in 1883, the idea of setting up an Opera House in the central city already popped into their heads. As a result, in 1901, under the instruction of 2 skillful architects – Broyer and Harley, the work of construction started on the model of the famous Garnier Opera House in Paris and completed after 10 years. It is believed that this Opera House witnessed Vietnam’s very first exposure to Western art, specifically music and staging.

Beginning as a cultural center for French and Vietnamese Elite, Hanoi Opera House served Vietnamese groups to perform plays. Later on, more and more important political events have been organized here.

On 16/9/1945, President Ho Chi Minh called for donations for the Government in the Golden Week.

On 2/9/1946, the Government celebrated the one-year anniversary of Vietnam Democratic Republic in the Opera House as well as welcomed Uncle Ho for the first time in his presidency.

Quick sketch of Hanoi Opera house
Quick sketch of Hanoi Opera house (@glycylserine)

In modern time, people come to Hanoi Opera House to enjoy various forms of music, from classical music, opera to Vietnamese traditional plays and folk music. It has become a dream stage for any artist in Vietnam because being able to perform here counts as a recognition of their talent and contribution to national art.

It is undeniable that Hanoi Opera House played a vital role as a historical witness for the development of Hanoi since French colonial time and will continue keeping its values in the future.

Architectural Highlights

Inspired by classical Greek Architecture and Paris’s Opera House, Hanoi Opera House deserves to be listed in the most representative, well-designed and artistic buildings in Asia. It perfectly depicts an exceptional piece of neo-classical French architecture featuring Gothic themes with tall pillars, shuttered windows, classic roof and balconies.

Hanoi Opera House covers an area of 2600 square meters and 34 meters high on average. It faces Trang Tien Street, one of the busiest streets in Hanoi at that time and stands right next to the modern Hilton Opera Hotel, which is also in French architecture.

Wander around Hanoi Opera House
Hanoi Opera House – the peak of architectural art (source: news.zing.vn)

The whole structure consists of 3 different parts:

1. The 1st Floor

At your first sight, you will see a T-shaped stone staircase leading up to the second floor, where the theater is on. Tile marble – made floor together with classical-motif patterns brings about a sense of affluence. The upper chandeliers are gilded while smaller ones on the wall are copper-plated in an antique style.

2. The 2nd Floor

It is called Mirror Room because there are big mirrors between the doors. All chandeliers, tables, and furniture are in classic French architecture. A number of critical events have been held here including Signing Ceremonies of Governmental Documents, Welcoming Guest ceremony, Chamber Music programs or Press conferences. One of the most amazing features of this room is the floor which was restored using Mosaic techniques with Italian stones.

3. The 3rd Floor 

It is an Audience Room which is 24X24 (meters) with a huge stage, 3 layers of chairs and 598 seats. The room is decorated in a sophisticated manner with Corinthian Order, colorful graffiti dome, and chairs designed as French style in the 19th century. The whole space is a perfect combination of colors, sound, and light.

A fact that might possibly amaze you is that Hanoi Opera House does not follow Classic French Architecture only. Looking from outside, you can realize that it has several different styles. The system of pillars and stone-tiled roof follow Roman Ionic Order. The curved balconies and dome over the main entrance specify  Baroque architecture in Italian early 17th century. The roof over two sides along the entrance for cars is typical of Art Nouveau Style. They all together create a strong feeling of an Eclecticism-based Neoclassical construction which definitely satisfy anyone curious about phenomenal architecture and decoration art.

Hanoi opera house interior
A show in Hanoi opera house (source: Hanoifoodtour.com)

Information for watching performances

  • Schedule: available at http://hanoioperahouse.org.vn/en
  • Performances Arts: opera (such as Carmen, the Secret Garden and Hamlet); ballet (such as Casse Noisette and Swan Lake); Vietnamese contemporary music; Vietnamese plays and well-known singers’ concerts.
  • Ticket price :VND 300,000 – 1,000,000 / ticket depending on the performance
  • Contact to get Tickets: (024) 3 933 0131 / Hotline: 0961669988 / buy directly at the Opera House

Tips on Visiting Hanoi Opera House

  • Arrive at least 15 minutes before the performance starts or you won’t be allowed to enter
  • Don’t smoke or bring food inside the Opera House.
  • Don’t record the performance by any devices
  • Don’t make any noise while you are watching the performance.
  • Hanoi Opera House is not really suitable for children under 6

Hanoi Opera House is ready to conquer your heart with its spectacular classical architectural beauty and extraordinary performances. It’s time to pay a visit there. Or if you did, why not give some sharing about your experience below?

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