Latvian National Opera and Ballet

Riga’s White House – the Latvian National Opera and Ballet, has always been the pride of the nation, which over the years has produced many prominent conductors, ballet dancers and world class opera stars, for example, Elīna Garanča, Andris Nelsons, Kristīne Opolais, Aleksandrs Antoņenko and others. Even though the history of Latvian opera goes back years before this, the first performance to take place at the Latvian National Opera was Richard Wagner’s opera the Flying Dutchman on January 23, 1919.

The existence of the opera building also inspired local Latvian composers to produce opera music. In 1920, the premiere of the first ever Latvian opera by Alfrēds Kalniņš (1979-1951) called Baņuta was held at the opera building. Over the next ten years, 12 Latvian operas were written, with 11 of them actually produced and performed. It can be said that between 1920 and 1940, the Latvian National Opera in Riga was the musical center of Latvia. From 1923, ballet performances were also held there. Opera and ballet performances continued during the Soviet occupation period, but when Latvia regained independence local music and dance lovers had to wait a bit – as renovation and reconstruction works on the building began in 1990. Opera, ballet and musical performances once again returned to the stage in 1995 with a symphony orchestra concert and an opera performance of Uguns un Nakts (Fire and Night) by the Latvian composer Jānis Mediņš (1890-1966).