If you have a chance to go to Ho Chi Minh City, you certainly can’t take your eyes off the elegant architecture of the Saigon Opera House. Located at the start of the famous Le Loi Avenue, the building still retails many lively evidences for the influence of French architecture in Vietnam.
At the turn of the 20th century, this magnificent building, designed by French architect Ferret Eugene, was built as a classical opera house with 800 seats to entertain French colonists. Anyone who has been to France can recognize many similarities between the Opera House and the Petit Palais. In fact, just like the Reunification Palace, the applied ornament, balustrades, cartouches, and roof were imported directly from France.
Constructed in early 1897 to an original design by award-winning French architect Eugène Ferret, this beautiful venue hosted performances by many international performing artists throughout the French colonial period. Closed during World War II, it was repaired and reopened when the French returned in 1946 but following their final withdrawal from the south under the Geneva Agreement of 1956 the Ngo Dinh Diem regime turned the venue into the headquarters of the Lower House, with the result that considerable changes were made to both the inside and outside structure of the building. After Reunification in 1975 the city authorities approved temporary repairs to the building, returning it to its original function as a theatre. In 1995, 100 years after the commencement of the initial building project, a comprehensive restoration project was approved by the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee with completion scheduled in time for the 300th Anniversary celebrations of the founding of Sai Gon in 1998. Many experienced historians and architects were invited to participate in the restoration project.
The theatre was renovated with new materials and equipped with state-of-the-art electric appliances, lighting and sound systems and fire and safety equipment. It is now equipped for a wide range of art forms, including singing, music, dance and traditional and modern theatre by both local and foreign artists. Many original architectural and decorative features have been incorporated, including a stone veranda, white stone statues at the entrance, colourful granite tiled floors, chandeliers, bronze statues in front of the stairs and richly-engraved auditorium arch and wall statues. Ho Chi Minh City Opera House is run by Saigon Concert, which has its offices at the rear of the building.
The style of this majestic building is influenced by flamboyant style of the French Third Republic. People can easily recognise similarities between the façade of this building and the Petit Palais, which was built in the same year in France. Inside, the house has a main seating floor plus two levels of seating above, and is capable of accommodating 1,800 people. All of applied ornament, balustrades, cartouches and roof were taken from France. Additionally, all the inscriptions, décor, and furnishings were drawn by a French artist and sent from his nation.
In order to celebrate the 300th birthday of Saigon, the municipal government invited some of famous architects and artists to restore the house in 1998. Today, renovated with new materials, the theatre is equipped with state-of-the-art electric appliances, lighting and sound systems, and safety equipment. Many original architectural and decorative features have been incorporated, including a stone veranda, white stone statues at the entrance, colourful granite tiled floors, chandeliers, bronze statues in front of the stairs and richly-engraved auditorium arch and wall statues. The Opera House is surrounded by new shopping plazas and posh hotels, which allow you to combine the trip to the Opera House with a shopping tour.
Nowadays, the Saigon Opera House, lyingcharmingly in the heart of the city’s District 1 area, becomes a theater for a variety of traditional and classical performances such as plays, concerts, ballet, opera, and Vietnamese traditional dance. Moreover, this house – the brightest building of Ho Chi Minh City – is also one of the exciting destinations which no one should miss when visiting this city.
If you would like to discover Saigon Opera House please go with us: Saigon sightseeing & local street food is trying to making lantern by yourself and you will have unforgettable memories. Don’t miss it!