Having begun in Italy at the end of the 16th century, the combination of music and theatre in the form of opera quickly spread - not only to the rest of Europe, but further afield.
Opera lovers are now spoilt for choice in terms of venues, but if you're looking for an operatic getaway, we've listed the 5 best places in the world to enjoy opera below.
1) The Bolshoi, Moscow, Russia.
Moscow's famous theatre has been rebuilt and renovated a number of times since its first performance in 1825, and only reopened in October 2011 after a six year renovation which included both acoustic and aesthetic improvements.
The Bolshoi has been home to premieres of operas by Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Mussorgsky - as well as being famed for its importance in the world of ballet. The beauty of the venue's neoclassic exterior is just a taster of the grandeur that can be experienced inside.
2) Vienna State Opera, Vienna, Austria
Having opened in 1869 with a performance of Mozart's "Don Giovanni", the beautiful red and gold Vienna State Opera building is, for the most part, relatively new, having been bombed by the Allies in 1945. The grand, marble staircase survived, but much of the rest was rebuilt, with a reduced capacity of just 2,100. Certainly the centre of music in Vienna, and one of the top opera houses worldwide.
3) The Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center, New York, USA
Opened in 1966, The Met at The Lincoln Center may not be the most aesthetically appealing building, but its acoustics and variety explain why so many operas are filmed here and broadcast worldwide. Peter Gelb, the current manager of the Metropolitan Opera Association, produces both classical and more innovative performances, making opera more accessible to everyone.
4) Teatro Alla Scala, Milan, Italy.
Since the 18th century, this Milanese opera house has been one of the most famous in the world, and a fitting tribute to the country's operatic history. The acoustics of the venue are widely reported to be perfect - partly attributed to a concave channel running underneath the floor of the orchestra. Puccini's "Madama Butterfly" and Verdi's "Otello", among others, premiered here, and a fantastic on-site museum also provides numerous mementos of the venue's success.
5) Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia
A top five would not be complete without the iconic Sydney Opera House, which opened in 1973 and gave a first permanent home to Australian opera. The country - with a rich, operatic history thanks to Dame Nellie Melba and Dame Joan Sutherland - now has an opera house that is amongst the busiest in the world, and with each theatre panelled in different varieties of wood to improve acoustics, the sound quality isn't bad either.
While opera may have begun in Italy, the art now enjoys massive popularity all around the world. There are a number of different opera houses that are worth a visit, all providing a unique experience in terms of aesthetics, acoustics and production. For those who are really interested in opera, there are many European tours which include opera houses and even performances into their schedules.