Hai Phong Opera House, opened in 1912, is one of three historic opera houses in Viet Nam and was the last of the three to undergo restoration. The interior is splendid and is able to seat 400 people while outside the building is more of a modern set up with a big square, a lovely flower garden, water fountains and twinkling lights. Many important events are regularly held here each year.
The first performance of opera in Haiphong was held by a travelling troupe in the Hotel des Colonies in 1888. Later 1895-1897 a touring French opera company in Indochina, featuring Alexandra David-Néel as prima donna toured Haiphong with La Traviata and Carmen. Another touring company, while waiting for the 1902 Exposition of Hanoi to open, came to Haiphong, including Blanche Arral.
The French architect deliberately copied the designs and materials of the Palais Garnier in Paris. When it opened performances were put on by touring singers, alternating with performances at the Hanoi Opera House On August 23, 1945 the Opera House was venue for the first public meeting of the Viet Minh in Haiphong, followed by a march and occupation of key buildings not guarded by the Japanese.
Under French rule the Opera House had primarily been for the colonial population. With the departure of the French population the Opera House turned more to local genres including classical Sino-Vietnamese hát tuồng opera, classical Vietnamese hát chèo drama, and the popular cải lương folk musical, as well as Socialist theatre and musical.
The Opera House also holds concerts of Vietnamese music, both classical ca trù, and neotraditional Vietnamese-Western (nhạc dân tộc cải biên, “revised national music”), folk genres such as hát chầu văn (“hát văn”) and quan họ, and popular songs.
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