Italian Restaurant Next Door to the Opera House
La Ballerina is conveniently located right next to the Royal Opera House which is based in the iconic Covent Garden. The Royal Opera House is renowned both for its outstanding traditional opera and for commissioning new works by today’s leading opera composers, such as Harrison Birtwistle, Mark-Anthony Turnage and Thomas Adès.
The Royal Opera House forms a cornerstone of Covent Garden, next to the world-famous piazza, and with an impressive frontage on Bow Street. It’s actually the third theatre built on this site after the first two were destroyed by fires – a serious hazard in the days before electricity!
An actor and theatre manager called John Rich built the first Theatre Royal, Covent Garden with the fortune he had made from the huge success of The Beggar’s Opera, which was a hugely successful, satirical ‘ballad opera’ written in 1728. At that time, under the terms of a Royal Patent, Covent Garden was only one of two theatres permitted to perform drama in the capital. The other patent theatre was the nearby Theatre Royal Drury Lane, and a rivalry soon developed between the two.
The first important musical works to be heard at the theatre were by the composer George Frideric Handel, who, from 1735 until his death in 1759, worked closely with Covent Garden as a composer and organist.
In 1808 the building was destroyed by a fire and work began to create a new theatre, the Covent Garden, designed by Robert Smirke. The theatre re-opened in 1809 with a performance of Macbeth by Shakespeare. In order to cover the cost of the rebuild, the theatre increased their ticket prices but the audience were so unhappy about the price rise that they booed and hissed during performances until the old prices were restored.