Opera d'Alger (Algiers Opera House) – Algiers, Algeria - Atlas Obscura

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Opera d'Alger (Algiers Opera House)

A new landmark that fosters cultural exchange between traditions. 

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This stunning opera house, a gift from the Chinese government to Algeria, opened to the public in 2016. The huge, rectangular building, reflected by a shallow pool just outside its doors, opens to an ornate greeting hall with floor-to-ceiling windows and a massive spiral. At an impressive 35,000 square meters, the venue can hold 1,400 seated guests.

China and Algeria have a long economic relationship, the roots of which emerged in China’s support for Algeria’s independence struggle in the 1950s. Their continuing alliance is memorialized by the $40 million dollar project that started construction in 2013, just 11 years after the end of Algeria’s civil war. The nearby historic Théâtre National Algérien Mahieddine Bachtarzi, constructed between 1850 and 1853, was also once known as the Algiers Opera House, but is now better known as the National Theater.

The Algiers Opera House hosts festivals, concerts, conferences, and other events. International artists and Algerians alike perform at the venue, including the Symphony Orchestra, the National Ballet and the Andalusia Music Group. This facilitates many opportunities for cultural exchange, such as the U.S. State Department-funded OneBeat Sahara music residency, which recently brought 25 musicians from North Africa and the United States to publicly perform at the opera house as a finale to 12 days of music exchange.

After two pandemic-impacted seasonal closures, the opera house is open for regular programming. Their Ramadan program for April 2022 features about 150 artists collaborating in 17 separate performances over the holy Islamic month alone. Ongoing artistic workshops and operatic training are offered to young people and students looking to engage in the artistic community of Algiers.

Know Before You Go

Visitors can tour the opera house at their leisure, as long as performances or special events aren’t in progress. Students and adults 65 and over usually qualify for discounted tickets, and the opera doesn’t allow children under 5 to attend performances. Masks are currently mandatory due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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