We had been planning to visit the Municipal Theatre Ho Chi Minh City while we are here in Vietnam, either to have a look through or to see the A O Show by Lune Productions.
So it was great timing when family visited from Thailand and we had the opportunity to see both the theatre and the show in the one visit.
I’ll write about the details of the shows at the Opera House below as the building is shared by Lune Production and also the Ho Chi Minh City Ballet Symphony Orchestra and Opera.
It’s better to write about the shows and the theatre on the same page as most people would be going to see the building and a show at the same time.
As we were with family we had the pleasure of a taxi ride into the city for tonight’s performance rather than catching the bus like we normally do.
So that was a bonus as well!
The Municipal Theatre Ho Chi Minh City is in the heart of city and is a short walk from Walking Street if you are in that area.
When you first see the building at night it certainly is impressive.
I think it has something to do with the space around the building and of course the great lighting.
This space around the building gives the flamboyant French architecture breathing space and is quite refreshing amongst the squash of the big city.
It certainly is a great looking building.
Municipal Theatre History
As usual I’ll give you a quick run-down of the history of the Municipal Theatre Ho Chi Minh City or the Saigon Opera House, as it is still called by many.
The Municipal Theatre Ho Chi Minh City was built in 1898 and has gone by many names and used for many different purposes in its long history.
The theatre was designed by the architect Eugene Ferret with inspiration taken from Felix Olivier and the Petit Palais in France.
In its early days the theatre would only function for four months of the year due to the heat.
Remember there wasn’t any air conditioning around in those days.
Originally theatre companies would travel and perform their shows here but over time the theatre was used for many other purposes than which it was designed, depending on who was in power at the time.
So basically from the onset of World War I through to 1975 the building was used for the occasional concert, temporary shelter and as a Parliament Building as well.
The Municipal Theatre Ho Chi Minh City was damaged in 1944 by Allied aerial attacks and this stopped it functioning for a while.
It was only in 1975 that the building was restored to its original purpose as a theatre and the then performers and the people could return.
And the old building has been entertaining the people of Ho Chi Minh City and tourists ever since.
Inside the Municipal Theatre and into the Show
Outside on the stairs is where you start your evening as this is the area they check your tickets and make sure you are going to the right show.
There was a bit of worry for us and we were expecting to have a bit of trouble heading into the show.
We were on the cusp of the Lune Production website change and when we booked online there was no mention of children under five not being allowed in to the Lune Production Shows.
When we had looked again on the afternoon before the show the website had changed and the guidelines about under-fives were very clear.
We explained this to the lovely lady at the front entrance and she had to go and double check.
We were in luck, just this time, we were allowed to take our little one in.
But make sure you don’t do the same as us and book a ticket for your little one as now they probably won’t be so lenient.
After we got through this first dilemma we entered the building.
You enter through two sets of doors at this stage, these were put in to stop the noise coming in from outside when a show was on.
As you can see in the above photo the main foyer is pretty massive.
To the left of this photo is the tables full of products to by relating to the Lune Production Shows.
So there are T-Shirts, coffee cups, toys and more here for you to purchase as souvenirs for your night.
On the right is a big staircase leading up to the top levels and also there is a TV advertising their other shows.
Also, if arrive early up the smaller set of stairs to the right they have a mingle area where you can get refreshments pre-show.
These are free and include local Vietnamese drinks like Green Tea and more, very nice.
The Stage and Seating
From the entry foyer when bell rings for everyone to take their seats you line up and head into the auditorium.
As you can see, inside the Municipal Theatre Ho Chi Minh City is awesome and I can already tell it’s going to be an amazing place to see a show.
You get to choose your seats when you are booking online and it’s a pretty easy process too.
There really isn’t a bad seat in the house except for a few that are around the pillars so these could be touch and go I feel.
I’m sure if it isn’t a full house there would be no problem sitting wherever you wanted to.
After a while, when everyone is seated, the theatre slowly dims into darkness and silence and then the A O Show starts.
We didn’t really know what to expect when you book because there isn’t much to go on except for the Lune Production website, a few videos and also the testimonials.
Right from the entry until the exit the show is great and takes you on a journey through country life to living in the city using acrobatics, props, dance, visuals and Vietnamese folk instruments and music.
They have certainly done a fantastic job with the show and it certainly is a must see show if you are visiting Ho Chi Minh City.
The show does the old theatre justice too and rounds off the whole experience.
Leaving the Municipal Theatre
After the performers leave the stage I managed to get a few more photographs of the theatre.
The photograph above was taken looking from the entry down to the stage, they leave some of their props on there as they leave heading out to the main foyer.
I felt sorry for another photographer (who had a way more expensive camera than I have) who was waiting for me to take this shot.
As soon as I clicked the shutter button the red lights went off on the stage and he missed out.
So apologies to him if he reads through this ever, I felt really bad about it afterwards.
This photograph above is looking towards the upper seating in the theatre, so you can see you would get a pretty good view of the show from up there.
This photo also emphasises what an amazing design this theatre has, not only for the architecture, but also for the people coming to watch shows here.
When you leave the main auditorium and head back into the foyer there is an opportunity for photographs with all of the performers on the big staircase to the side.
They play and sing there until everyone has had their turn and taken their photos.
This just rounds off the great experience that it is, one of our kids stayed on the steps for a long time and was in plenty of the other tourist’s photos.
So we bought a few souvenirs and headed outside and milled around with the rest of the crowd post show.
From the time I walked up the steps until the time I got into the taxi and took one last glimpse at the building, I thought to myself, what a great night and what a great building.
What’s shows are on at the Municipal Theatre Ho Chi Minh City?
There are two companies that run their shows currently out of the Municipal Theatre in Ho Chi Minh City.
Both of these companies run uniquely different shows and programs as you will see below.
Lune Production currently has four different shows to choose from and the Ho Chi Minh Ballet Symphony Orchestra and Opera has a wide variety of concerts and performances from a multitude of different musical genres.
Between them both there is always plenty for you to choose from if you are looking for things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.
Lune Production Shows
This company started their productions in 2012 and they have come a long way since then, lucky for us.
They have four shows on offer at the moment and you can book tickets to see these through their website or you can head down to the theatre to purchase them.
The shows they have on at the Municipal Theatre are;
- A O Show
- Lang Toi – My Village
- Teh Dar
- The Mist
The schedule of the shows is a little random so make sure to check the Lune website to see when a show is running that suits your timetable.
I also noticed while writing this that Lune Production have a show running in Hanoi as well, so you have an option of seeing some of their shows there too.
It is easy to book online for the shows and if you book early you can book the best seats for yourself easily.
You see advertising for the A O Show all around if you are visiting other tourist destinations in Ho Chi Minh City.
And if you Google Saigon Opera House Show it comes up with the Lune Production shows as well as an older show that use to be at the theatre.
Ticket pricing for Lune Production, more importantly the tickets for the A O Show, were varied and also there are family packages available.
So I’d say, if you were looking at booking your tickets go to the Lune Production website to see what deals are available at the time, or give them a call.
Ho Chi Minh City Ballet Symphony Orchestra and Opera
The Ho Chi Minh City Ballet Symphony Orchestra and Opera was a company I didn’t find out about until later, it might be because their website doesn’t rank highly or they don’t get talked about as much as Lune Production.
But they do manage performances pretty regularly at the Municipal Theatre Ho Chi Minh City.
Their performers are a lot different to ones in the show above but they still have their place none the less.
They have a wide variety of composers, classical music, opera, ballet and composition performing at all different days and times of the week.
Again, if this is your style and you would like to have a look at the Municipal Theatre at the same time, why not?
I’ve put their contact details below for you too so you head to their website to check out what and who is coming up.
You can buy tickets for the performances online, by phone or visiting their office.
I think I might head along to one of their night performances to see a bit off a different type of show for a change.
Municipal Theatre Contact and Location
Here are the contact details and address of the Municipal Theatre Ho Chi Minh City, link to Google Maps for you and also the information about buying tickets.
Municipal Theatre (Saigon Opera House)
7 Lam Son Square,
Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Google Maps Link for the Theatre
Phone 028 6270 4450
It was hard to find any opening hours for the Municipal Theatre Ho Chi Minh City so I’d suggest giving them a call if you just want a tour or to look through (see below notes).
Or alternatively if you are ringing to book tickets ask Lune Production or the Ho Chi Minh City Ballet Symphony Orchestra and Opera ticket booking office.
There were different ticket prices for both the companies shows listed above, so if you are looking to book tickets for shows at the theatre, give them a call or book online.
I couldn’t find any information on the cost to have a look or book a tour through the building at all, but most tour companies bundle in a visit to this landmark in their itinerary I have seen.
I hope this information helps you if you are looking at visiting Ho Chi Minh City and more importantly, booking a show to see at the Municipal Theatre while you are here.