History of The Royal Opera House Covent Garden

royal opera house covent garden The Royal Opera House (ROH), is located in the heart of Covent Garden, in central London, and is often referred to as simply Covent Garden. Not only is the home of The Royal Opera, but it is also home to The Royal Ballet and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. The current opera house is the third theatre to have been on the site. Both previous building were destroyed in fires in 1808 and 1856. Much of the current building is relatively new, having been reconstructed in the 1990s, however, the facade, foyer and auditorium date from 1858. The main facade of the opera house on Bow Street is a beautiful, iconic landmark in London. Seating 2,256 people, the main auditorium is the third largest in London. With four tiers of boxes, balconies, and the amphitheatre gallery the Grade 1 building is as impressive on the inside as out.

History Of The Royal Opera House

The history of a theatre being located at the location in Covent Garden goes back to 1662, when Charles II awarded letters patent to Sir William Davenant, allowing him to operate two patent theatre companies in London, one of these being Covent Garden.

The Three Theatres

The First Theatre

John Rich, was an actor-manager of the Duke’s Company, and using capital he successfully aquired having commissioned The Beggar’s Opera, The theatre opened in 1732 with a production of The  Way of the World by William Congreve. In 1808,  the theatre, along with many valuable items that were housed there, were destroyed in a fire.

The Second Theatre

Work began on building the second theatre in 1808, however, this theatre was also destroyed by a fire in 1856.

The Third Theatre

In 1857, building work started on the third theatre. The building was designed by Edward Middleton Barry and built by the Lucas Brothers and was opened in 1858. The theatre became known as the Royal Opera House (ROH) in 1892.

During the two World Wars the Royal Opera House took on different roles, with it being used as furniture repository during the First World War and a dance hall during the Second World War.

Many renovations have been undertaken over the years to improve the theatre, however, it was recognised in the 1970s that the theater major construction work to improve it facilities and capacity. The first part of the renovation projects stared in the 1980s and some major project have been undertaken over the past decades to transform the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden to being an iconic theatre and landmark in London.