The Opera of the Slovak National Theatre is the first Slovak opera stage founded in 1920. It launched its activities in the building of the former city opera in Bratislava built in the second half of the 19th century to the design by the eminent Vienna-based architects Helmer & Fellner. Her management prided itself through the history with a number of lauded figures, with Oskar Nedbal, the composer and conductor of European standing being among the first. Czech artists played a major role in the first phase of the history of the SND Opera. They helped to build the ensemble to the finest professional standard. Guests featuring in the opera in the interwar period included such celebrated names as Richard Strauss, Pietro Mascagni, who conducted their works here, as well as singers Feodor Chaliapin, Richard Tauber, Sándor Svéd, Ema Destinová, Zinka Milanov. After World War 2 the theatre was bestowed with the first major national oeuvre, the musical drama The Whirlpool by Egen Suchoň. SND Opera hosted premières of fuerther major works by one of Europe’s foremost operatic artists, the Slovak composer Ján Cikker. The artistic ensemble includes a number of outstanding performing artists, particularly those who starred at major European stages in the 1970s and 1980s, namely Peter Dvorský, Sergej Kopčák, Gabriela Beňačková, the conductor Ondrej Lenárd, and later the tenors Miroslav Dvorský, Sergej Larin, the baritone Dalibor Jenis, the soprano Ľubica Vargicová, and others.
SND Opera gradually drew attention within the wider European context, and made a number of landmark tours with its productions. It was received to major acclaim in the Comic Opera in Paris, at the globally renowned Edinburg Festival, or at the tour of Japan. The Opera enjoys traditionally close ties with the Opera of the National Theatre in Prague: together they regularly hold mutual guest performances. Following the political and societal changes after the Velvet Revolution in 1989, the national borders opened and our vocal artists began to increasingly reach the Western opera stages. Meanwhile, they continued to regularly return to their home stage. Today the list includes such names as Pavol Bršlík, Adriana Kučerová, Štefan Kocán, Jolana Fogašová, Aleš Jenis and others who represent the Slovak vocal art worldwide.
The year 2007 proved to be a milestone in the history of the SND Opera: it marked the opening of the SND New Building on the Danube embankment. The Opera since enjoys two stages that vary in size and choreographic focus. Today the Opera has extensive international collaboration in terms of a range of coproduction partners, as well as guest performances. 2017 brought the contemporary world première of Arsilda, the forgotten oeuvre by Vivaldi. The production, directed by David Radok with guest ensemble Collegium 1704 conducted by Václav Luks, was received with major acclaim. One of the foremost European directors Peter Konwitschny regularly stages different works at the SND. The Opera partners in its projects that are already underway or are being planned with foremost European theatres and festivals, such as The Flemish Opera in Antwerp and Gent, Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg, Opéra Royal de Versailles, Bregenzer Festspiele.
SND Opera is repertory theatre. Its programme in a season includes over twenty different operas, as well as chamber and larger concert events. The programme is further expanded by the music theatre festival Eurokontext.sk that is convened biennially by the SND Opera together with the SND Ballet.