Sao Carlos Opera House, sadly, does not seem to enjoy as much publicity as many of the other Lisbon attractions in the tourist schedules and – apparently due to the Portuguese economic situation – there are currently less performances than normal. Their website is only in Portuguese. In our fortnight in the city the only opera performances were of the rarely performed ‘El Gato Montes’ (The Wildcat), by Spanish composer Manuel Penella. Having never heard of the composer I almost didn’t bother going and only enquired the day before. There were only a few seats left - but as over 65’s get in half-price (so just £15 for a seat in a 3rd floor box) – we booked. We were so glad we did. The opera was surprisingly entertaining: the soloists of international standard, the orchestra good and the huge chorus adequate. There must have been about 80 musicians and performers altogether.
The opera house itself is a beautiful building with baroque features at the side of a pleasant square in the centre of Chiado. Except for the booking foyer and restaurant, it is not normally open except for performances.
The charming young Portuguese attendants all spoke excellent English. I guess they were students in suits and ties: but really helpful and very smart.
The 3rd floor boxes had a huge, ornate, withdrawing room right behind. I was told it is sometimes used to entertain visiting dignitaries. We were allowed in, but no refreshments were available there – only in the ground floor bar, which had the most enormous queue at the interval, making it impossible to get drinks. A pity.
If you can get tickets, a night at the Sao Carlos Opera is an evening well spent.
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