The Royal Opera House was first built in Covent Garden by John Rich in 1732. It was London's most luxurious theater ever.  In 1808 the theater was destroyed by fire, but rebuilt a second time in 1809.  Ticket prices were raised to help with the rebuilding, which set off two months of rioting until retracted by management.  In 1847 Italian composer Giuseppe Persiani bought the lease after another theater refused to produce one of his operas.  Following alterations, he reopened the theater as the Royal Italian Opera with a performance on April 6, 1847 of Rossini's Semiramide.  The first season ended with a great financial loss and Persiani fled the country.  Thereafter, Frederick Gye became owner.  He was successful for many years until the opera house was again destroyed by fire in 1856.  The third rebuilding occurred in 1857-58 under Gye's financial and managerial guidance.  The opera house opened on May 16, 1858 with a performance of Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots.  Designed by the architect E.M. Barry, the building remained unchanged until the 1950s.  

In the 1859 map, the Royal Opera House is a black square labeled "Cov G" (for Theater Royal Covent Garden) at the lower center of cell K16 south of "w" in Bow Street and east of "tr." in Hart Str.


(Quarter Mile Section - K 16)



Sheppard FHW (ed). Survey of London, Vol. 35, 1970. 

Weinreb B, Hibbert C (eds). The London Encyclopaedia, 1993.

Royal Opera House in 1848

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The opera house was destroyed by fire in 1856. 

Front Exterior of New Opera House in 1857

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Side Exterior of New Opera House in 1857

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Interior View of New Opera House in 1858

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Old Ordnance Survey Map of 1873

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