If you're a lover of Baroque opera or theatre, there's no experience quite like going to see it in one of the theatres where it was originally performed – and there are a surprising number of these still in existence.

Czech Republic

Hasse's Tito Vespasiano at Český Krumlov, Czech Republic
© The Town of Český Krumlov | Libor Sváček

Nestled close to the Austrian border is the mediaeval castle of Český Krumlov, which was renovated extensively in the baroque era, with inclusion of a theatre which is still in use today. The original stage machinery is still alive and well.


Drottningholms Slottsteater, Sweden
© David Karlin | Bachtrack Ltd

One of the most impressive is the UNESCO-listed Drottningholms Slottsteater, gloriously set in the gardens of a 17th century Royal Palace on one of the many islands in the Stockholm archipelago, an easy train-and-bus trip from central Stockholm. As in Český Krumlov, the original stage machinery is still operational.

Gustav III's Theatre at Gripsholm, Sweden
© Alexis Daflos | The Royal Court, Sweden

Slightly further from Stockholm – the trip takes about an hour – is Gripsholm: a castle in an even more spectacular waterside setting. Built by Gustav III in one of the castle towers, the theatre there is smaller and not in regular use, but worth a visit for the setting alone.

Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice at Ulrikdals Slottsteater Confidencen, Solna, Sweden

For the final step of your trip around the environs of Stockholm, head for Sweden’s oldest rococo theater, Ulriksdal Palace Theatre Confidencen, where they have a full programme of opera in the spring and summer. This year's summer opera will be Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice: the photo shown here is from the 2009 production.


Château de Versailles: Opéra Royal
© Agathe Poupeney

In the archetype of baroque palaces and parks, Louis XIV's Château de Versailles, the Opéra Royal is still in regular use. The theatre wasn't finished in Louis' lifetime - today's structure opened in 1770 (late in the reign of Louis XV, his great-grandson) with Lully's Persée.


Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Sala Bibiena
© Giovanni Bartolani

The scene is a little different in Italy, where several theatres built in the baroque period and earlier are still in service as their city's municipal theatre. Here is the Teatro Comunale di Bologna, which runs a busy season of opera and concerts.

Teatro Olimpico, Vicenza
© Vicenza è Convention & Visitor Bureau

Also in frequent use is the 400 seater Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza, which isn't strictly baroque because it's even older: it was designed by the Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio in 1580.

Teatro Farnese, Parma
© Comune di Parma, Ufficio Turismo

Parma's Palazzo della Pilotta is home to what is said to be the oldest proscenium-arch based theatre: the Teatro Farnese, built in 1618 and rebuilt to the original design after severe damage in World War II.


Markgräfliches Opernhaus, Bayreuth, Germany
© Bayerische Schlösserverwaltung

As a performance venue, the Markgräflisches Opernhaus in Bayreuth has long been overshadowed by Richard Wagner's famous Festspielhaus. But for lovers of the baroque, the question of which has the more desirable interior is a very one-sided contest. It was built in the 1740s by Margravine Wilhelmine, older sister of Frederick the Great, who was herself an actress, composer and director of singspiel and opera (see Nahoko Gotoh's article). You'll need to patient, though: the house has been closed for extensive renovations; at time of writing, it is planned to reopen in April/May 2018.

Cloud setting at the Schlosstheater, Ludwigsburg, Germany
© Residenzschloss Ludwigsburg

A ten minute train ride from Stuttgart (German trains are fast) will get you to a spacious mansion and park: the Residenzschloss Ludwigsburg. Its theatre dates from 1758 and is another one where the original stage machinery is still operational. And if you want to understand it in action, there's a working model in the adjacent museum.

Theatre at the Neues Palais, Sanssouci Park, Potsdam, Germany
© Hans Bach | SPSG

For sheer scale, you can't beat Frederick the Great's Sanssouci Park and its collection of palaces in Potsdam, an easy day trip from Berlin. Surprisingly, the rococo theatre in the Neues Palais is relatively small and a model of restrained elegance (at least, by the standards of baroque decoration).