Guidebook Saigon Opera House

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Saigon Opera House

From a distance, the Opera House “looks like a beautiful gigantic city gate,” explains Lune Production. “The architecture boasts stone-carved ornaments and statues at the entrance, crystal chandeliers, and shiny granite floor at the lobby area -- all built with materials imported from France.” Built in 1897 “under the direction of three French architects,” the façade of the Opera de Saigon “as it was then called” was “an echo of the Petit Palais, built the same year in France,” writes Asia Life. “Its revolving stage and three-tiered, 800-seat galleries soon became a stopping point for touring French troupes,” and for a time “evenings at the Opera de Saigon provided cultural diversions and world-class shows to the city’s thriving middle class.”

It wasn’t always used as an entertainment venue, notes City Highlights. “After the French were defeated at The Battle of Dien Ben Phu and the Geneva Accords were reached, the theatre was briefly used as a shelter for French citizens emigrating from the north.” And by 1956 “enthusiasm for its use as an entertainment had waned significantly and it was converted into the Lower House of Assembly for the South Vietnamese Government.” After the end of the American War, “there was no longer a need for the assembly, it was once more converted into a theatre.”

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