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19 wondrous opera houses

By: Angela Nelson on Aug. 18, 2016, 6:42 a.m.
Vienna State Opera in Austria

Photo: Markus Leupold-Löwenthal/Wikimedia Commons

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Vienna State Opera

The Wiener Staatsoper was built in 1869, but much of it was destroyed in 1945 when the Allied forces bombed the Austrian city toward the end of World War II. Fortunately the main lobby and central staircase remained intact and were preserved during the resulting restoration.

The horseshoe-shaped auditorium, lavishly decorated in the traditional red, gold and ivory color scheme, can hold 2,284 people. Instead of a chandelier, there's a ring of built-in ceiling lights made of crystal glass. The fixture weighs more than 6,000 pounds and requires 1,100 light bulbs.

Every February, a parquet dance floor is installed in the auditorium for the annual Opera Ball — a high-society event where ballet and opera stars perform for an elite crowd to music played by the Vienna Philharmonic, and 180 debutante couples are introduced in a choreographed dance before the floor is opened up to all guests.