With its 14-meter curved façade overlooking the Amstel River, Amsterdam's Muziektheater cuts a dramatic swath in one of the city's oldest neighborhoods. Home to The Dutch Opera and Dutch National Ballet, it's housed in the same building as Amsterdam City Hall.
Since opening in 1986, the Muziektheater has earned a reputation for daring opera productions and innovative takes on classics. As one of the world's leading ballet companies, Het Nationale Ballet stages productions ranging from Tchaikovsky ballets to contemporary dance, accompanied by The Holland Symphonia. During the year-end holidays, The Sleeping Beauty is traditionally staged.
Make your night at the opera complete with a pre-show dinner buffet served in the lobby of the Muziektheater's second balcony.
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Amsterdam Lights Up Winter
Amsterdammers have never been shy about lighting up, but they really amp up the watts for the second annual Amsterdam Light Festival. Over 50 dark days of winter 2013, the Dutch capital provides an atmospheric backdrop for more than two dozen light sculptures and installations by contemporary artists. Disney meets Andy Warhol meets Tim Burton in a sculptural collection that will illuminate city landmarks through mid-January.
You need not buy a ticket to peer at the projections from bridges and squares throughout town. For a more organized overview, opt for the Watercolors Canal Tour, beginning at the giant "Fly's Eye Dome" near Central Station, which floats along city canals and the Amstel River, past 17 works by renowned light artists and young talents. See it by foot on the Illuminade Route, starting on the Amstel bridge before Stopera, where Ralf Westerhof's "Drawn in Light" stainless steel cityscape dangles, leaving cyclists, trees and lamp posts cascading in layers from the night sky.
Continue to Stopera, where "We Light Amsterdam," the festival's first crowdfunding project, lights up winter via 1,100 household lamps collected by New Heroes Foundation from individuals, thrift shops, businesses, schools and retirement homes. The remainder of the Illuminade Route winds through the Plantage neighborhood in the eastern part of the city.