Zürich has one of the teeniest of the main European opera houses - just 1100 seats. Musical and production standards are high, as are ticket prices, but even the cheapest seats (about £25) have reasonable sound and views.
Seats can be easily booked online, and few productions seem to sell out ages in advance. There are even a few seats left for Anna Netrebko in La Traviata in April at the time of writing.
The opera house is only about 20 minutes from the airport by taxi, or about double that by train (to Stadelhofen via the Hauptbahnhof), so it's possible to fly in on a Sunday morning, catch the matinee, and return to London on the 20.25 Swiss or 21.25 Easyjet after a swift supper. Booking well ahead, this can, astonishingly, be done all-in for less than a top price seat at Covent Garden. Who said Switzerland was expensive?
More information and lots of photos over teh page................
This is what it looked like from outside at interval time in May 2008, my last visit. It was the week before Euro 08 kicked off, hence the footie poster:
The stage as seen from centre Parkett Galerie (the first level):
The pit is relatively shallow; the orchestra are really on display:
There are 16 rows in the stalls and three tiers above; it feels intimate wherever you sit:
Lots of fancy gilding and plaster work in the auditorium, but unlike many European opera houses of this vintage, there are no large salons or halls in the building. It's more like a conventioanal theatre, with bar tables set up in the foyer at the interval:
The opera house is just a few yards from Lake Zürich. These are the views from next door:
It's five minutes south of Zürich old town.......
......where friends of cake indulge in maximalist cakes on minimalist plates at Cakefriends on Torgasse. Good coffee, too:
The old town is split by the Limmat river. On the right bank, the main drag is touristy Münstergasse .....
....but the side streets are more interesting - like Spiegelgasse, with its little boutiques and cafes tucked into the old buildings. Medieval Art & Vie combines the middle ages with, er, Morocco. It carries a staggering selection of Arabic CDs amongst its books and trinkets and is also the home of Andy Tauer's fabulous perfumes:
The left bank is posher. Designer boutique Trois Pommes is everywhere you look, spread out over several tiny stores around Storchengasse:
The left bank is also home to a surprising number of vintage and consignment stores, sitting side by side with the designer shops. In this spotless corner of Switzerland, the merchandise is generally so pristine it's hard to tell it isn't new. Here's Le Boudoir:
The antidote to all this manicured prosperity is the Langstrasse quarter in the west of the city - half tarts and kebabs, half sk8 shops and nightclubs. Here's a Saturday fleamarket:
Attached to the shop is its own restaurant, Seidenspinner, reached via a gnome-patrolled corridor: