Are you a fan of performing arts and planning to visit Latvia? We can say for sure that you have chosen the right destination, because Latvia is an excellent destination for cultural tourism. Performing arts are largely a reflection of the culture of each country. Talents, art, music, direction, scenography, costume design and everything that goes on behind the scenes and is necessary for the creation of a show meet on stage. Performing arts show both the artists' view of the traditional and the contemporary, and also meet the expectations of the viewer. In Latvia, the love for performing arts has deep roots: no matter what times Latvians have gone through, they have been united by song, theatre or opera.
Theatre traditions in Latvia are old; the first performance mentioned in the writings took place in 1205 or 1206. It was a performance of religious content organised by missionaries and Crusaders in Riga. The first stationary theatre, Riga German Theatre, was founded by Otto Hermann von Vietinghoff in 1782. Richard Wagner (1837−1839) was the conductor, and French, Russian, Italian theatre, opera and ballet artists visited its premises, marking Riga on the European cultural map. The field of professional theatres in Latvia is dominated by stationary theatres founded by the state, which is a historically established system, because it best ensures the operation of the theatre both in organisational and economic terms, as well as artistically. There are seven state-founded theatres in Latvia, as well as several theatres under the authority of the local government and several independent theatres.
The best of traditions and the most modern of contemporary genre novelties can be found in Latvian theatres and opera.
The Latvian National Theatre is one of the leading professional repertory theatres in Latvia. It is a modern theatre that is proud of its traditions and 100 years of history. The Theatre has a great historical significance, which is rooted even deeper than the performing arts - the eclectic-style building is an architectural and artistic monument of national importance, in this building on 18 November 1918, the state of Latvia was proclaimed. Although the performances are staged in Latvian, it is worth seeing the theatre building.
Dailes Theatre is typical for Latvia, but a little different. Its style has always been different from the style of the so-called natural-psychological trend theatres. In the art theatre, the reality of art has always been more important than the reality of life. It has the most brilliant history of directing theatre in Latvian culture. Its style was shaped by the founder, actor and director Eduards Smilģis, for over forty years. Since its early days, the theatre's repertoire has included the world's greatest dramaturgy - the works of Shakespeare, Schiller, Ibsen, Rainis - as well as performances of plays by the most talented authors of their time. Besides, it is a theatre that has always been particularly close to musical performances; they are always in the repertoire. Dailes Theatre is the largest professional repertory theatre in Latvia with three stages. It is also possible to visit Dailes Theatre for performances in English; all information about the content and language of the performance is available on the theatre's website.
Those who want innovations in performing arts and a worldly outlook should definitely attend one of the performances of New Riga Theatre. It is a professional repertory theatre, which offers its audience a smart, attractive and unusual repertoire - a modern perspective on the classics, original Latvian dramaturgy and works by foreign authors. The theatre's communication emphasises: “In the age of quantity, stress and information, we want to affirm humanism, vitality and emotions, to look for a way back to harmony and simplicity.” And that's exactly what you can enjoy in every one of the New Riga Theatre’s performances. It is a theatre that also pays special attention to various digital solutions. Also in this theatre there are often separate performances in English or in another language, the most-up-to-date information is available on the theatre's website.
Mikhail Chekhov Riga Russian Theatre is the oldest Russian dramatic theatre outside Russia; its repertoire includes both Russian and world classics, as well as works by young playwrights. One of the main principles of the theatre for many years has been to maintain the diversity of repertoire genres: the audience is offered both deep socio-psychological performances, impressive musical performances, and unexpected creative experiments in various forms, as well as the academic genre - classical productions.
The theatre is named after Mikhail Chekhov. He was a film and theatre actor, teacher and director, born in 1891 in St Petersburg. Still, during his life he also developed a connection with Riga: here he performed guest performances and eventually became the director of the (then) Riga Russian Drama Theatre. He has a lasting and important role in Latvian theatre culture. Most of the shows in this theatre are staged in Russian; if that's the language you speak, it's worth buying a ticket to Mikhail Chekhov Riga Russian Theatre.
The Latvian National Opera and Ballet is a place where language barriers do not exist in almost any performance, making it a great destination for every cultural gourmand. This institution has been a talent forge for many internationally recognized names in the music world - Sonora Vaice, Elina Garanča, Andris Nelson and others. In addition, it is also a place where it is often possible to meet world-class artists - both opera and ballet performances are often created in collaboration with internationally recognized soloists, directors and other talents.
It is the only opera and ballet in Latvia. This is a place where many different arts and times meet. LNOB combines traditional and contemporary, opera and ballet, and music and dance. This genre is also rooted in relatively old traditions in Latvia: the beginnings of opera traditions in Latvia can be traced back to the 18th century, when the first musical performances took place in the Duchy of Courland (Kurzemes hercogiste) and the first traveling opera troupes formed in Riga. The home for real opera and ballet house is in the centre of Riga since 1863, when the opera house was built, also known as the “White House” of Riga.
The opera building itself is one of the pearls of Riga: the main facade of its building is marked by six powerful Ionian columns, above which the building's pediment is decorated with several allegorical figures - Apollo, symbols of tragedy and comedy, the genius of drama, The Latvian National Opera and Ballet offers an opportunity to visit the unique architectural monument of the 19th century, viewing its unique and magnificent interior. Today, at LNOB, it is possible to dive into the genre's classics, enjoy contemporary performances, see worldly art, and visit Latvian performances.