Hanoi Opera House

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Hanoi Opera House

A French corner in the heart of Hanoi capital city

Hanoi Opera House

 Located in the heart of the capital city Hanoi, Hanoi Opera house – an impressive and indispensable symbol of culture, history and architecture – is the venue of the major arts programs of many leading musicians and artists in Vietnam and abroad. 

Paying a visit to this beautiful destination, tourists can admire the magnificent architecture of the Hanoi Opera House as well as enjoy frequently performed shows to adore the gorgeous interior of the theater. 

The fascinating history of Hanoi Opera House

The land on which Hanoi Opera House was built was a swamp belonging to the two villages of Thach Tan and Tay Luong. In 1899, the city council assembled under the chairmanship of Richard – the Hanoi Ambassador and proposed to the higher level authorities to build the theater. 

The construction of the theater was a combined effort of many professional and talented designers, including Harley and Boyer. The project was started on June 7, 1901, under the technical supervision of the urban inspector Harlay – one of the two designers. 

The process of levelling the ground required a massive effort. Every day, there were 300 workers, 35,000 bamboo piles are built with 90 cm thick concrete blocks. The theater used more than 12000m3 of material and nearly 600 tons of cast iron. The building occupies an area of 2600m2 with 87 meters in length and 30 meters in width. The highest point of the building compared to the road surface is 34m. 

The front of the building is enormous with many steps overlooking the August Revolution Square, used for welcoming the cars of the colonial officials come and see the music performances. The designers skillfully harmonized different styles of architecture, from the ancient Greek of Cornhill, Tuylory castle and Paris Opera House in order to create a unique and separate architectural block. 

At that time, inside the theater was a large stage and the main auditorium with an area of 24x24m, which accommodated up to 870 seats in leather and velvet materials. The middle floor had many small rooms for the spectators having their special tickets. 

The staircase to the second floor was a large main hall with extra steps and corridors on both sides. Behind the theater is a management room, 18 chambers for makeup artists, two singing rooms, a library and meeting rooms. The front of the second floor was a very beautiful mirror room. The cost of building the Hanoi Opera House at that time cost a fortune – 2,000,000 francs.

The theater was used as a place to perform traditional and classical art forms such as opera, chamber music, drama … for the French upper class and a few wealthy Vietnamese. The schedule was four times a week on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

Hanoi Opera House – a masterpiece of architecture, sculpture and sound

After exploring the interesting history of Hanoi Opera House, visitors are urged to confirm the history as well as discover the reasons why the theater has received numerous praises.

The Hanoi Opera House is divided into three distinct parts: the magnificent lobby at the entrance with a stone T-shaped staircase with decorative figures on the ceiling and walls; above the hall is a “mirror room” for VIPs on the second floor; the donkey hoof-shaped audience room accommodates 800 seats spread over 3 floors, including family seats arranged in logs; next comes the big stage and behind it is the gymnasium, make-up room, management room and meeting room. 

The facade of the theater features Roman Ionic pillars forming five hollows in the middle and two dense ones in the gable, topped by a stone arched roof. Thus, the principles of Renaissance architecture are emphasized strongly and clearly. However, when approaching the building, the Baroque elements stand out with curves of the balconies combined with the form of arches above the entrance, especially the delicate and complex decorative forms which are praiseworthy efforts of architects and sculptors. 

Moving on to the side, the Baroque elements almost completely overwhelm everything with the rectangular windows, arches, walls filled with elaborate pictures, attractive decorative forms, which are all rich in sculptural value. The top of the theater gives us a sense of the French neoclassical spirit with the black-tiled roofs that are so well organized with the combination of many forms: curved roofs at the emphasizing points, rolling roof in the auditorium and triangle-shape one above the stage.

Speaking of the Hanoi Opera House, there would be a great mistake not to mention the unique and impressive interior decoration. When setting foot inside the theater, tourists will be amazed by the Hall with a solemn stonework of marble combined with the decorations in the spirit of classic, bringing a sense of luxury. Above the hall is the famous “mirror room”, which is renowned by many huge mirrors on the walls and interspersed between the doors. Moreover, the floor is a mosaic painting of coloured stones, walls and the ceiling is decorated with embossed motifs and brilliant crystal beams. 

Besides, the auditorium is also more elaborately decorated with rows of Corinthian statues illuminated by a vaulted ceiling by colorful murals interlaced with plastered reliefs and a large gold-plated chandelierInterior space can be considered here is the sum of color, light and sound perfect.

The colorful mix of styles at the Hanoi Opera House gives us the impression of neoclassical, eclectic architecture with values not only architecturally but also in terms of decorative arts. There is no exaggeration to say that Hanoi Opera House was the most beautiful theater in the French colonial territory at that time. 

The Hanoi Opera House – the convergence of tremendous values

Hanoi Opera House has a great value in terms of history, architecture and value for use. It is historical evidence of the cultural and social development of Hanoi and Vietnam during the French colonial period, a relic of a period of architectural development in Vietnam at the end of the 19th century and early 20thcentury.

Moreover, Hanoi Opera House and Theater Square are places of great historical events associated with the August Revolution and the early years of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. In addition, the theater has witnessed the first moments of peace in Vietnam as well as a witness of revolution in Hanoi. Since then, the theater has always been the center of important meetings, conferences, and high artistic performances by national and international art groups.


Hanoi Opera House is a unique architecture with outstanding values of history, culture, architecture and fine arts. The theater becomes a rare element of the city and the architecture of the capital, contributing to the creation of our present-day face in the cultural field and creating the necessary premises for the expansion of cultural exchange.