Italian Restaurant Next Door to the Opera House
La Ballerina lies in the iconic Covent Garden, conveniently located next door to the Royal Opera House. The Royal Opera House holds acclaim both for its outstanding traditional opera performances and for commissioning new works by today’s leading opera composers, including Harrison Birtwistle, Mark-Anthony Turnage and Thomas Adès.
The Royal Opera House forms a cornerstone of Covent Garden sitting next to the world-famous piazza. The Grade 1 listed building has an impressive frontage on Bow Street. It is actually the third theatre built on the site after the first two were destroyed by fires. This was a serious hazard in the days before electricity!
John Rich, an actor and theatre manager, built the first Theatre Royal, Covent Garden with the fortune he made from the huge success of The Beggar’s Opera; a satirical ‘ballad opera’ written in 1728. At that time, under the terms of a Royal Patent, Covent Garden was only one of two theatres performing drama in the capital. The other patent theatre was the nearby Theatre Royal Drury Lane. A rivalry soon developed between these two.
The first important musical works heard at the theatre were by the composer George Frideric Handel. From 1735 until his death in 1759 he worked closely with Covent Garden as a composer and organist.
In 1808 a fire destroyed the former building. Work soon began building 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. The audience, unhappy about the increase, booed and hissed during performances until the theatre restored the old prices.