Performing Arts in Switzerland – Where you should go and why!
Reasons to go to see an opera, ballet, play or symphony:
- To experience something different. No matter what year it was written, most storylines are relatable, whether the story be about revenge, love, loss, betrayal, joy or triumph. Even if it is not your first time, ballet and opera stories are all different.
- To listen to something unlike what you hear every other day of the year. While the opera may not be in your mother tongue, there are subtitles above the screen to help provide deeper insight of what is being sung about. The power that an opera singer has to produce such clear sound for the auditorium (without a microphone to boot!) is really incredible.
- To watch someone do something that they absolutely love doing. It sounds simple, right? But so much of the news and other bits that we hear and see everyday are negative. I don’t know about everyone else, but sometimes it really affects me and my happiness. I think for the most part, when you watch the dancers, singers or musicians, you can see that it comes directly from their heart. And even if there are no words spoken in a ballet, you understand them all the same.
- To try something new. Although some attendees will be well versed in ballet or opera, there is nothing to be ashamed of if you have never been before. If you are nervous, look up the storyline ahead of time and make sure you get there with enough time to get yourself situated.
- To dress up for an evening, or not! Do not worry about what to wear. I will also admit that while getting ready for my first opera, I searched on Google for “opera attire” and wow, the amount of fur coats and ball gowns was nearly enough to scare me away, but do not feel intimidated! There will be people dressed a number of different ways. The Zurich Opera says on their website that there is no dress code, to come as you feel comfortable.
- To prove yourself wrong. If you think that you would find these performances boring, the Geneva Opera says that it only takes one evening in the opera to realize how wrong you are, and what a fan you have become. I will admit that it is not everyone’s cup of tea. You are bound to have an opinion, just as you would on a new film or album, but at least give it a chance. After all, how do we know if we like something or not if we do not try?
- Because they are accessible! All of the mentioned theaters are wheelchair accessible, I have provided as much detail as I could. Remember that sometimes the staff need to rearrange some seats in order to accommodate you, so when you make the reservation always let them know that the ticket is for a wheelchair user and companion if that also applies. They will be happy to help you and reduce your ticket cost as well, which I have specified below. Sometimes attending a show can be quite expensive, however, all of these theaters provide a discount to help with the costs and when you compare it to the price of a meal at a restaurant, it is very reasonable!
044 268 66 66
The Zurich Opera house as we know it today, has been around since 1984, however, the site has a long history of theater dating back to 1834. The Zurich Opera is one of the best in the world, and in 2014 it was awarded the Best Opera Company of the Year at the International Opera Awards. The opera house also hosts Switzerland’s largest professional ballet company, who are known to be one of Europe’s leading ballet ensembles.
The building has four available spots for wheelchair users. They are separate from one another, however next to each spot is a seat reserved for a companion, if that applies to you. There are lifts and wheelchair accessible restrooms. Also the ticket office is accessible for wheelchairs and they provide a discount for those with disabilities as well as their companions. For wheelchair users opera tickets cost 95 CHF and ballet tickets 56 CHF. The companion discount is between 115-160 CHF for opera and 85 CHF for ballet.
The Parkhaus Opéra has three designated wheelchair accessible parking spots on each floor. You can reach the Zurich Opera also by public transportation. It is located a few hundred meters from Bahnhof Stadelhofen and only a couple minutes from the tram and bus stop “Bellevue”. There is a tram stop directly next to the opera house, called “Opernhaus”, which can be reached by trams number 2 & 4.
Theater St. Gallen
9004 St. Gallen
071 242 06 06
At the Theater St. Gallen, the curtain rises around 400 times each year. They offer a variety of theater, opera, symphony and dance in the current building designed by Swiss architect, Claude Paillard. St. Gallen also hosts the St. Galler Festspiele every Summer during June and July. It is held outside and truly something one should not miss if they are in the area!
The theater provides six wheelchair places for every performance. The places are together in groups of two, making it a perfect opportunity when two wheelchair users would like to attend and sit together. The ticket office is wheelchair accessible, as well as the restrooms. The price per ticket varies a little bit, because with an IV you are entitled to a 25 % reduction on performances from Monday to Friday, and a 40 % on Sundays. Wheelchair users and their companions also receive a 50 % reduction at all times.
Although they have only one parking spot for wheelchair users, there are dozens of transportation opportunities with buses and the stop is “St. Gallen, Theater”.
Konzert Theater Bern
031 329 51 11
The Bern City Theater offers about 300 performances every year, in opera, symphony, dance, and musical theater. Established in 1903, they are in need of a renovation and will leave their main building in March to hold their performances in other buildings across the city.
The auditorium has five wheelchair places, three are together and the other two are also together. There are companion spots as well. The ticket office and restrooms are wheelchair accessible. They provide a 50 % price reduction for tickets of wheelchair users, as well as for a companion.
The theater is accessible with public transportation: tram numbers 6, 7, 8 & 9 from the train station with the stop “Zytglogge”. There are also three wheelchair parking spots in the Parkhaus on Waisenhausplatz.
Grand Théâtre de Genève
Boulevard du Théâtre 11
022 322 50 00
The Grand Théâtre de Genève opened in 1879 and houses the country’s largest stage for opera and ballet. They have since renovated the auditorium into a typical German shape, which allows the 1,488 seats all to have a clear view of the stage and French & English subtitles. Half an hour before each show, they offer an expert to explain to you the key aspects of the piece.
There are four wheelchair places per show which are situated together in pairs. Also companion seats are available. The ticket office and restrooms are wheelchair accessible. A free seating category upgrade for wheelchair users and companions is provided.
The theater has many park houses around that are handicap accessible and it can be reached with public transportation as well: bus numbers 3, 5 & 36 and trams 12 & 18 with stop named “Pl. de Neuve”, buses 2, 19 & 23, stop “Bus Stop Théâtre”, as well as buses 1, 2, 19 & 23 and tram 15 at stop “Cirque”.
Opera de Lausanne
Avenue du Theatre 12
021 315 40 40
The Lausanne Opera was built in 1871 and its latest rennovation, including the modern looking attachment, cost over 30 million Swiss Francs. It hosts about 40,000 visitors every year in its 1,000 seat auditorium.
Four wheelchair places are available, in sets of two together, although without a companion spot. The price varies a bit per show, costing 65-95 CHF. The ticket office is wheelchair accessible as well as the restrooms.
You can reach the opera by public transportation with bus numbers 1, 2, 4, 8, 9 & 17, stop “Georgette”. Parking is available at park house Bellefontaine.
061 295 11 00
The Theater Basel has a rich history (including being destroyed by fire) dating back to 1834, and it has made many changes in structure and what it offers. The choir was awarded Best Choir of the Year in 2013. They have also added English speaking plays, nice for visitors and expats!
They ensure that all of their facilities are barrier-free and fully accesible for wheelchair users. There are four wheelchair places available. All tickets are reduced by 50 % for wheelchair users and a companion.
You can park in park houses Theater and Elisabethen or use public transportation: trams number 2, 8 & 11 with stop “Bankverein” and tram 10 to “Theater”.
041 228 14 44
The Luzern Theater has been around since the 1800s and is the only theater in Central Switzerland that offers such a variety of perfomances, including around 200 performances of plays, dance and opera every year. Although Luzern is a popular tourist attraction, around two thirds of the performance attendees are residents from the Canton of Luzern,
The Luzern Theater has an incredible eight places available for wheelchair users! They are grouped together in pairs on either the right or left side of the theater, and with one pair in front of the other. There is not a distinguished companion seat, however you can request to buy a ticket for a seat next to the wheelchair place. Wheelchair users receive a 50 % discount on all tickets.
There is public transportation options with buses, however the theater is less than 300 meters from the train station, along the Reuss river and with a view of the famous Kapellbrücke.