Iconic, unique and often stunningly beautiful, theatres are often some of the most impressive buildings to visit in a city, and can mark the highlight of a tour or holiday. Whether it's because of innovative or artistic design, or compelling history, here is a selection of some of the must-see performance venues from across the globe.
Minack Theatre, Cornwall
Carved into the cliff side in Cornwall, this open-air theatre stages plays from May to December against the dramatic backdrop of the Atlantic ocean. Although Romanesque in style, this impressive arena is the triumph of one Rowena Cade, a local woman who carved and constructed the stage and seating area by hand. Just four miles from Land's End in Porthcurno, this breath taking venue is perfect for catching a magical moonlit summer production.
Teatro Amazonas, Brazil
An opulent jewel in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, this palatial opera house recalls a prosperous time in Brazilian history, with its Murano glass chandeliers, ornate Parisian furnishings and magnificent painted ceilings. The exuberant exterior dome, a stunning feature of the Renaissance-style construction, is decorated with 60,000 ceramic tiles painted with the colours of the Brazilian flag. Guided tours and free performances take place regularly for visitors and this architectural masterpiece in central Manaus is easily accessible by plane or boat.
Herodes Atticus Theatre, Athens
Situated on the south slope of the Acropolis, this incredible amphitheatre is the main venue of the Athens Festival, which runs from May to October. What better way to experience a classical Greek tragedy than under the night sky in these majestic surroundings, steeped in ancient history? These impressive ruins have been restored using marble to enable an audience capacity of 5,000 for live outdoor performances.
Palau de la Musica Catalana, Barcelona
If beauty is what you're looking for, you won't do better than the sumptuous artistry of this Catalan concert hall. A conspicuous gem on an otherwise dreary street, this is indeed a palace, richly embellished with floral designs, enamelled tiles and imposing sculptures. Enjoy some Basque tapas beneath the breath taking stained glass illuminations, or head to the second floor lounge for the best views of the elaborate mosaics on the exterior columns.
Teatro alla Scala, Milan
Probably the best known opera house in the world, this neo-classical venue exudes grandeur and prestige, with its plush red velvet and lavish gold ornamentation. Ticket prices may be sky-high, so try a tour, where you'll get to view the tiered private boxes, as well as historical opera costumes, set pieces and instruments. This majestic venue is a must-see destination for opera lovers, and if you do manage to get tickets, don't forget to wear your finest frock — it is the city of fashion, after all.
Royal Albert Hall, London
Situated in swanky South Kensington, the home of the annual summer Proms is a bit of a British national treasure, with its recognisable red-brick facade and wrought iron dome. The auditorium is home to the largest pipe organ in the UK, as well as a series of space-age mushroom-shaped fibreglass discs on the ceiling that diffuse the acoustics and prevent echoes during performances. Visitors can catch some lunchtime jazz in one of the many cafes or take in one of more than 350 performances per year from classical concerts to high-profile pop shows.
Sydney Opera House, Sydney
No-one could fail to recognise this iconic landmark which is one of the busiest performing arts centres in the world. The overlapping concrete panels gleam white against the backdrop of Sydney Harbour, creating an imposing effect. These striking 'shells' house a concert hall, separate opera and drama theatres and a playhouse. For the ultimate experience, enjoy an Opera High Tea before exploring the Royal Botanic Gardens, or watch a jaw-droppingly beautiful sunset over the city at the Opera Bar, boasting the 'best beer garden in the world'.
China's National Grand Theatre, Beijing
The National Centre for Performing Arts defies belief with its space-age exterior — a futuristic ellipsoid made of titanium and glass in the centre of a man-made lake, like an enormous sci-fi pod. Visitors enter the building through a transparent subterranean walkway, leaving the curved, partially transparent, outer surface of the building entirely unbroken. Most impressive at night, when the glass section of the building lights up, this astonishing venue houses three major performance halls as well as an urban district.
Melbourne Recital Centre and MTC Theatre
Melbourne's Southbank arts venues are the epitome of design chic — a mixture of geometric motifs, asymmetrical steel, neon beams and vivid honeycombed-patterned glass. The MTC's auditorium includes a back-lit wall of words made up of famous quotes, while the Melbourne Recital Centre is designed specifically for clarity of sound, with pine panels fashioned to resemble the back of an instrument. Indulge in a pre-show drink in one of the bars, where you can sample some of Victoria's finest beers.
Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles
Built by the animation magnate's late widow, this sweeping stainless steel structure shines out from the LA concrete like the sails of a silver ship. Designed by Frank Gehry with state-of-the-art acoustics as the first priority, the hall has been praised extensively for its quality of sound. Home to the LA Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as US chef Joachim Splichal's fine dining establishment, this spectacular construction provides a great vantage point from which to view LA's landmarks, including the Hollywood sign.
This guest post was written and provided by Show and Stay, the UK theatre break providers.