Opera! Some love it, others loathe it, but there’s no doubting its longevity since Jacopo Peri’s first production of “Dafne” in Florence in 1598.
An amalgamation of music, poetry, singing, drama and a fair amount of angst, opera can transport you to a time and place far from your plush seat.
For some of us, as much as we love the performance, it’s about the entire evening. Are you ready for a night at the Opera?
Design & Construction.
The long anticipated, but not as originally intended, Dubai Opera opened at the end of August 2016. The original Zaha Hadid design, planned within a cultural centre on Dubai Creek, was shelved in 2008 due to Dubai’s real estate collapse.
Atkins Global’s Janus Rostock Design Director and Head of Architecture was tasked with the design do-over and a new location was confirmed. In 2013 UAE developers, Emaar Properties hit the start button on the new site in the shadow of Burj Khalifa.
Dubai Opera’s design represents a dhow, the traditional Arab sailing vessel still used today in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean.
Since Placido Domingo’s opening performance Dubai Opera has staged Bizet‘s Pearl Fishers; Rossini‘s Barber of Seville; Vivaldi‘s The Four Seasons; a Mozart Gala; Les Misérables; West Side Story and Cats, to name just a few.
There has been Flamenco, Ballet, Anoushka Shankar’s sitar and most recently Puccini‘s Madam Butterfly. Tonight it’s another Puccini classic: La Bohéme.
Drinks & Dinner.
At.mosphere, the bar and restaurant on Burj Khalifa’s 123rd level is a perfect place for pre-opera drinks & dinner. 3-hour time slots need to be reserved in advance.
Our tip: arrive at 5-pm for a leisurely cocktail taking in Dubai by day, through sunset and into the evening.
Tables require a minimum spend. Right at the window, it’s currently AED 350 and back from the window, AED 270.
Another tip: reserve a stool at the bar with zero minimum spend. It’s quite acceptable to wander around to take photos.
When it’s time to dine, The Armani Hotel‘s Ristorante Armani features 2 and 3-course pre-opera packages served from 6-pm.
Nearby at the Palace Hotel, Thai restaurant, Thiptara takes in the Dubai Fountain and offers pre-show dining packages along with 15% off wine for opera goers.
The Palace Hotel and Burj Khalifa are walking distance to Dubai Opera but in heels and the heat, we suggest a cab. Be mindful of the circular boulevards of downtown Dubai to ensure you arrive on time.
Curtain call for La Bohéme.
A few things to note.
Ticket collection can be found on the ground floor, though when making your purchase, e-ticket selection is available.
Alcohol can only be purchased and consumed on level 1.
There are sandwiches and snacks in case there wasn’t time for dinner.
Any intermission refreshments are ordered before the performance begins.
Inside, red leather seating highlights the extensive use of natural timber. The coveted boxes are reminiscent of the sailing vessel theme of the exterior and although it seats 1900, the atmosphere is intimate.
The lights go down, the last of the seat shuffling ceases and the orchestra kicks off. As the curtains open, Rodolfo is gazing out the window while Marcello paints. Let the performance begin.
Post-opera drinks are a must. How else can the show’s post-mortem be completed? Grab a cab for the short hop to Taj Hotel and take your pick of the stylish venues.
The Eloquent Elephant is a club style gastropub at ground level with craft beers, well-mixed cocktails and attentive service.
Tesoro on level 3 with Burj Khalifa views from its terrace offers a late night menu and should it be Thursday, you’ll save 50% on your entire bill.
The Taj Hotel’s show-stopper is Treehouse. On the extensive outdoor patio of level 3 with a Burj Khalifa and Dubai Opera backdrop, indulge in smokin’ cocktails and funky tunes. “Join the tribe and come up and play”.
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A night at the opera: it’s a thing we love….
***psst…this post is not sponsored.