Author: dalai
October 31, 2015

Opera and Ballet in Mongolia


Opera and ballet are an important part of the cultural scene in Mongolia. The credit of introducing opera and ballet into Mongolia goes to the Soviets. For a long time, Mongolia was a satellite state of the Soviet Union, which encouraged its satellite states to develop classical arts.


Beginning in the 1950s, hundreds of Mongolians went to the Soviet Union to learn classical arts and many Soviets came to Mongolia to help the country set up theaters and conservatories. The Mongolian Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet close to the Mongolian parliament was also built with Soviet help. It showcases opera and ballet on Saturday and Sunday evenings. Sometimes, there are shows even on weekend afternoons. There are many original Mongolian operas, 'Three Dramatic Characters' and the more recent, 'Chinggis Khan', being the most popular ones.

The center hosts many world class opera and ballet performances every month

As per the Ho Center for Buddhist Studies at Stanford that has hosted artists from the Mongolian Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet in the past, the Mongolian opera and ballet performance standards are truly world class. The theater produces 14 operas and 14 ballets every year, with multiple performances of each. The operas include popular renditions by Mozart, Rossini, and others. Other popular operas adopted in the theater include Verdi's Atilla and Aida, Bizet's Carmen, Tears of a Lama (which has Buddhist overtones) and more. The ballet repertory includes major French and Russian works.

The theater is also working hard to preserve the old style. Many of the performers have trained in Russia. The performances are so good, the theater even gets visitors from as far as France. The core repertory of the theater is still western, but efforts are underfoot to include more Mongolian work. For example, the Mongolian national opera, 'Three Dramatic Characters' is performed several times a year. The opera is about thwarted love against a socialist background. It also features Mongolian wrestling and native inspired songs.


The theater is a major tourist attraction in Ulan Bator

The theater has done well, thanks to the hard work of its performers and dedicated patrons. It is a considerable achievement because Mongolia is sparsely populated with a population of just 3 million. Just 1 million people live in the capital. The theater and conservatory already has several exchange agreements in place (La Scala Academy and Verdi Conservatory in Milan are two) and it sends many performers to Russia, to train every year.


When you visit the building, look for a board outside which lists the various shows for the month. You can also book seats in advance. It is recommended because the theater is often full.