The trip to explore Vietnam today connects you to another historical symbol of Ho Chi Minh City. That is the Saigon Opera House. Saigon Opera House is a theatre situated in Dong Khoi Street, District 1. It is regarded as a general-purpose house specialized in holding art performance and big events. It is typical of French colonial architecture and tourist attraction in Ho Chi Minh City.
The theatre was built from 1898 to 1900. At first, the theatre operated well but then it worked perfunctorily with several concerts and cai luong programs. However, in 1944, the building was heavily damaged by the Allied aerial attacks. In 1955, it was restored but served as a seat of National Assembly (Lower House) of the Republic of Vietnam. After 1975, the building came back to the original function as a theatre. In 1998, on the occasion of a 300-year history of Ho Chi Minh City, the municipal authorities ordered to renovate completely the theatre to preserve its original architectural style.
The Saigon Opera House was designed in Gothic style, which is a very popular style in France in the 19th century under the supervision of architects Ernest Guichard and Eugène Ferret. The specific characteristic of this style is the harmonious combination between architecture and sculpture. The façade and interior of the theatre were decorated with sophisticated inscription and reliefs. Its architectural style was influenced by the flamboyant style, especially the façade shaped like the Petit Palais, the building was constructed in the same year in France. The theatre has a capacity of 1800 seats in total including the ground floor and two storeys. All design of the inscriptions, décor, and furnishings were made by a French artist and imported from France.
However, the ornate carvings on the façade received a lot of criticisms. Therefore, in 1943, some decorations were removed to make the theatre more modern. In 1998, on the occasion of 300th anniversary of founding Ho Chi Minh City, the authority invested VNd 25 billion to upgrade the theatre and restore some decorations.
Saigon Opera House is a long-time theatre witnessing up and down periods of the city and regarded as a tourist attraction.