Late as always, I am almost running through Riga old town. As google maps tells me I am getting closer I can see the beautiful winter decorations light up the park along the canal. And there it is; the Latvian National Opera!
Approaching this monumental building I have to stop for a moment, even though I am late. The Latvian National Opera was first opened in 1863, built as a part of a redesigning of Riga, located next to the city canal. Unfortunately the original building was severly destroyed in a big fire in 1882, but the architect in charge of the restoration followed the original design. It has been renovated and adjusted many times since, but always inn a way that would blend in with the original.
FINDING MY SEAT
As I got closer, I could see the small que of people on the side of the large columns. I lined up and a moment later I entered the hall. It was just like I had imagined. A gentleman scanned my ticket and pointed me in the direction of one of the stairs.
After leaving my coat at one of the cloak rooms, I was a bit afraid not to find my seat; the opera has nearly 1000 seats! But I didn’t have to fear, all entrances and seats were numbered.
OPERA AND FLIGHTS
I knew I wanted to experience a performance here even before I had decided on going to Riga. Mainly because I love culture, which can be hard to find in a small town like Voss. Secondly because evenings can sometimes be long when travelling solo, and it is nice to have some events scheduled.
With two tabs open in my browser, one with the opera’s schedule and Wizzair the other, I chose flights after when I could see something interesting. I ended up going the first weekend in February, seeing The Nutcracker on my second night in town.
December would probably suit better for this play, but then again; when is it wrong to see a classic ballet?! I would have loved to see Peer Gynt, but that was only played mid-week.
Well on my seat, I eventually started looking at the people around me. Suits and jackets, dresses and heels were to be seen everywhere. What I had read about the Latvians being serious about going to the opera. It is an event that at least most Rigans do once or more each year, and they all stick to the dress code. You could spot some of the other tourists by the outfit. I could not match the long gowns, but was glad I wore a nice blouse and heeled boots.
The orchestra started playing, all noise dissapeared and I was mezmerized by the athmosphere in the room… The show was beautiful, but nothing extraordinary if you have seen some ballet before. But the athmosphere was incredible.
Just sitting in that beautiful hall with 950 other people, listening to the orchestra and watching the dancers in their costumes swirling and tip-toing on stage, was worth a lot more than the 10 euro I paid for my ticket.
After one hour there was a break where you could go upstairs to get refreshments. I am not the one for long ques, so I rather spent the time viewing the main hall from different angles. Another hour later I was back out on the street, and strolled over to the Kolonade café, ending the night in a lounge chair with a glas of red, some decent pasta and my book. Just looking over to the opera now and then.
The Kolonade has a restaurant section on the first floor and a café upstairs. Next time in Riga I most definitely will visit the restaurant, but the café was cozy and could bring up the sommelier if wished.
If you are planning a visit to Riga, do check out the opera’s schedule here. I recommend buying tickets in advance, prices ranging from 5 to 20 euros per seat. Were else can you get a okey seat at a ballet performance like this for 10 euros? Not in Norway, that’s for sure…
The opera is located in the old town, walkable from most places and quite easy to find.