National Centre for the Performing Arts

Top choice

Classical Music

in Forbidden City & Dongcheng Central

The National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), literally as National Grand Theatre, and colloquially described as The Giant Egg, is an opera house in Beijing. The Centre, an ellipsoid dome of titanium and glass surrounded by an artificial lake, seats 5,452 people in three halls and is almost 12,000 mᅡᄇ in size. It was designed by French architect Paul Andreu. Construction started in December 2001 and the inaugural concert was held in December 2007.

Plonked in the middle of an artificial lake like an alien spaceship, the Paul Andreu–designed NCPA (aka 'The Egg') is a surreal yet spectacular venue at which to catch a performance of opera (Western and Chinese), ballet and classical music. Online booking is in Chinese only, but local agent www.theatrebeijing.com can deliver tickets to your hotel for a small commission.

Even if you don't see a show, you can tour the venue during the day to admire the architecture and peek into the three concert venues (occasionally closed for rehearsals). For theatre buffs, a detailed exhibition showcases the NCPA's own recent commissions (including several triumphalist Communist Party epics), along with an engaging primer on world operatic styles. English-language tours can be booked in advance over the phone.