To me, this is one of the most atmospheric (not to mention, creepy!) levels in the whole game. As the level begins, you slide down onto a wooden platform, narrowly missing the deadly, swinging crate in front of you! Now, there's a hitman on the platform below the ledge you are on. You can wait until you are on the opposite side to get him, but I always backflip off the platform with my grenade launcher out and try to blast him as I drop down! (See the video here.) You need to be in the water anyway, so why not give it a try? Besides, he'll only keep popping away at you if you don't get rid of him! He drops some automatic pistol clips.
Either way, you have to jump down into the water and swim to the left and around the corner where there is a ladder. Climb up to the first ledge above, turn around, walk to the edge and pull yourself up to the next ledge. Flip the switch that you find there to open a large trapdoor in a nearby roof. You can probably get rid of the first gunman from here if you didn't manage it before.
Jump back to the ladder and climb to the next level. Either run, jump and grab from the edge of that platform or jump to the adjacent one...carefully...and take a running jump over to the light-coloured ledge opposite. Walk to the edge facing the swinging crate. Run, jump and grab, shimmy to the left as far as you can go, then pull up. Turn to face the trapdoor opposite, right at the left edge of the platform, and hop back once (screenshot). Move to the right slightly, and check she is facing the trapdoor. From there, wait until the crate swings away, then run and jump across and drop into the trapdoor with guns at the ready to deal with another thug. Once he's gone, pick up the ornate key.
As you start towards the stairs, another baddie appears...let him have it then pinch the small medipack he drops. (Please note that an irritating bug may prevent you from retrieving the medi if it gets stuck between stairs!) Carry on up the stairs, then make your way right back to the swinging crate again! This is the last time, I promise! This time, shimmy right when you grab the crate-ledge. Pull up and walk to the opposite side, where you see a tiled ledge opposite. You can run and jump, or jump and grab to reach it. Turn to face the wall and sideflip left so you land on the sloped roof...keep action pressed so you grab the end or you'll fall off. Shimmy left until Lara can drop safely on the next ledge.
From that ledge, drop and grab the edge, shimmy left until you are above a window...let go then immediately press 'action' to grab the ledge below. Shoot the glass out with your pistols, then carefully WALK through the broken glass on the floor...if you run through, you will die! Find a ladder in the far left corner and climb up it, pulling yourself up through the opening above.
Follow the next passage to a door...you can open this with the ornate key. Keep going until you find another ladder...climb up this and you will come to a badly rotten roof. It's so rotten, in fact, that it will break away as soon as you step on it, so you will need to be quick! Save your game. Stand at the right side of the roof (screenshot), then do a series of running jumps to get across, grabbing the ledge at the other side and pulling yourself up.
As you are standing with your back to the broken roof, look right to see a passage above a ledge. Follow this and you will come to a ledge overlooking the domed roof of the opera house. There are a couple of bad guys here and two dogs. You should be able to blast them from where you are, but if they don't appear, drop and hang from the ledge to draw them out, pull back up, roll and take out your weapons and you should be able to get them now. They drop some goodies, a large medipack and some automatic pistol clips, so go and pick them up.
As you walk around the domed roof you'll encounter another couple of baddies...get rid of them before you do anything else, then relieve them of their small medipack and shotgun shells. Please be careful that you don't fall into any of the pits that contain broken glass...you will die! Also, if you see a very tempting object down one of them, please resist trying to get it until later. :-)
As you explore the area you'll see the deadly, swinging crate, and unfortunately this is where you need to be next. A lot of walkthrough guides when explaining different ways to do this often call for precise timing when making the next jump, and usually end up with Lara being hammered and killed by it. The safest way to do it is to climb up on the dome exactly opposite the crate and side-step as far to the right as you can (screenshot). Then jump back and do the run, jump and grab to reach the ledge, which you should do without injury. Climb up next to it.
At the back of the ledge is an opening...drop down into it, using a flare¹ if you need to, and find and push the button on the wall. This opens the trapdoor entrance to the opera house. However, when you do, two grunting thugs climb out looking for trouble! One has a gun, so you need to be careful. You may be able to kill them from the top of the swinging crate ledge, then you can take the shotgun shells and flares that they drop².
The trapdoor that opened leads to the lighting booth which will enable you to gain access to the inside of the opera house. The lighting booth contains two switches...the one on the left works, but the one on the right needs a circuit board which you will need to find inside the building. Throw the left switch to open the gate next to it and climb down the ladder to the floor below.
Look up the slope and you'll see a narrow, bricked area...this hides a boulder trap, so to set it off, run down the ramp until you hear it coming, then get as close to the right wall as you can so it rolls past you. You can then find a button on the same side and push it to close the gate you just opened. This opens the way for you to enter the opera house, which you now do.
If you stand inside the opening, you will see a sandbag hanging from the ceiling...there are a few of these in this level, and they are deadly, but you only have to run underneath them to bring them down. Drop to the floor with your weapons drawn, run under the sandbag towards the left, and kill the bad guy, taking his small medipack when he's down. Hopefully the sandbag came down, but if not, just run under it again.
There's a narrow hallway to the left of where the goon came from, so follow this, killing two dogs on your way. There's nothing you can really do here, yet, but I wanted you to see the lift..it needs a relay box to make it work, so you'll be back here once you've found it.
Go back to where the sandbag fell and past it toward the double doors...as you near it another thug appears along with another dog...get rid of them. Walk to the left of the doors, being careful not to drop down the opening, and if you stand at the edge of the floor, facing the opposite end of the room, one floor down you will see another killer (screenshot). You can probably get rid of him from where you are. If you can't reach him, try dropping and grabbing the edge of the floor and then pulling back up.
Now you can drop down through the opening to the ledge just above the first floor. Drop and grab the edge of the that ledge as if you were going to drop, then pull back up. As you do so, you hear a door opening beneath, and another grunting goon and two more dogs appear...you should be able to get them from where you are without any problems. You may also find yourself under fire from another sniper across the stage area...if so, just pick him off in relative safety from behind the barrier in the right corner (screenshot).
Drop down to the ground floor to relieve the goon of his large medipack. Please don't be tempted to go exploring the doorway the goon came from...it's a rather nasty red-herring in the form of a boulder trap! There's another of the same on that floor...if you stand with your back to the stage over the water, you'll see another bricked alcove. In there is a boulder (screenshot), so you can set it off by running past it³.
You now need to get back to the second floor. There is a small, carpeted platform to the left, if you are standing with your back to the water (screenshot). Jump onto here and pull yourself up to the first floor. Make your way carefully over the broken floor to the other side as far as you can, then jump forward and grab to the next level and pull yourself up. Jump over the gap and take the two sets of automatic pistol clips dropped by the shooter you killed earlier.
There is an opening in the wall to the right (from where you jumped over the gap), and past that is a long, long drop into some water far below...yep, you have to jump into it! Once you've done that, surface and climb out onto the ledge and kill the rat that's there. Turn around, jump and grab to the next ledge and kill another rat. Turn around again to see another ledge...this leads to a narrow passageway that has another killer, 2 rats and a dog. You can try to get the guard from where you are, but to be honest, I like climbing up and blasting them with my Uzis!
Follow the passage and shoot out the windows at the end and do a safety drop to the dressing room below. On the wall straight opposite, you will see a switch. Throw it to open the nearby door. You may want to save your game here, as the door opens onto a slope, at the bottom of which is a deadly fan! Slide down and jump at the last minute to land on the ledge at the other site. If you jump too soon, you may have to press 'action' to grab the ledge.
You are now in the ventilation shafts. Pick up the ornate key on the ledge you are on, and climb up the next two ledges to the right of it. Now, you will see a white slope leading to the fan, but there's a ledge at the end you can grab (screenshot). Stand facing downwards, sideflip left, then jump and grab (or just land on, if you've timed it right) to the safe ledge as you reach the bottom.
Follow the passage, killing a rat as you go, and walk to the edge of the duct. Because this is a fairly small gap, you may think you can just do a standing jump to get across safely...wrong! Do a full running jump to make Lara bang her head against the one above (ouch!), and she'll land safely over the gap. Step back to the edge and jump forward to land in the one above. Do the same again and you'll come out near the exit door. However, before you exit, turn around and jump and grab the ledge opposite to find the Jade Dragon! Please be careful...the passage is very dark and there's another deadly fan just past the dragon...the first time I played this I ran like an idiot straight into it and ended up sliced and diced!
The only way to get back down is to stand at the edge, jump forward and press 'action' so you land in the exit passage. Pull out the crate you find there and push the button behind it to open the exit door. Then pull the crate once towards the passage you have just come from, then push it into the dressing room as far as it will go. Climb up on to it, shoot out the windows to see another crate. Place that one on top of the first one. You should now be able to stand on the low platform on the floor and climb up the two crates (screenshot). There's another grunting thug up above to take care of before you continue.
Make your way back to the area with the ledges over the water and jump and grap the ledge opposite to get back to the main room. From here, you can jump into the water and swim across to the stage. There's a block you can use to climb out, but when you do, you'll encounter another dog and the shooter (as well as a couple more sandbags) if you didn't get him earlier. Also, another hitman tries to shoot you back in the main area, so turn around and deal with him, too. The shooter on the stage drops some Uzi clips, but I couldn't get mine as a sandbag fell on top if them! :-(
To the left of the stage, where the dog came from, is an area with a switch...throw it to open a door on the opposite side of the stage. You'll probably hear a creaking noise coming from somewhere, but you'll be dealing with this later! You can also see, if you look down into the water, an object you will need to pick up, also later.
Now run to the opening on the opposite side of the stage, and deal with two more club-wielding thugs that are in the room beyond. Once you've got rid of them, look up to see two more sandbags that need to be triggered before you do anything else. Simply run underneath them to make them drop. After that, go back to the entrance, turn around and climb up to the doorway you opened with the switch.
Make your way carefully past the broken glass to the left side. Opposite you will see a crevice set into the wall. You need to be standing to the right of it, where the lowest part of the ledge is (screenshot). Run, jump and grab to it, shimmy left, then climb up and throw the switch on the wall to lower the drawbridge at the top of the room you are in.
From the highest part of the bricked ledge you are on, take a running jump over to the platform with the broken glass. Cross the drawbridge to the end, turn to face left, then run, jump and grab to the wooden platform over there. Climb up into the opening above, turn around and kill a rat on the platform in the middle of the room. Then run, jump and grab over to it.
From there you will see two swinging sandbags, right in front of you! The second one you don't need to bother with, but you'll need to jump past the first one onto the next platform. Walk to the end and jump to the small platform on the right to avoid the second sandbag (screenshot). Jump over to the switch and throw it. This opens a trapdoor in the floor of the stage, with water underneath. You can either climb down the long way round to get to it, or you can slide down the short slope to the right of the switch and jump before reaching the end. You should jump through the trapdoor into the water, but just in case, make sure you save your game before you try!
Once in the water, surface and take a look around, lighting a flare if necessary. If you are standing with your back to the trapdoor flap, you can see an opening to the left. Swim down it, then take the next left. On the right of this flooded room is a switch on the wall..throw it to open your exit door. Opposite the switch is a small opening...swim though it to find the Silver Dragon.
Return to the trapdoor opening to get your bearings. Swim left again, but keep going to find another room with a ladder and a relay box. Pick it up and climb up the ladder. This takes you to the door you just opened. Climb back up to the third floor and make your way past the first sandbag to the passage way to the far left. Remember you saw the lift there earlier? There's a control panel that can be clearly seen on the wall just before you get to it. Place the relay box in it, so you can use the lift. You will also need to deal with the 2 dogs if you didn't get them eariler.
However, before you get into it, send it down by flipping the switch on the wall. Then jump over to the ladder and climb up. There you'll see the Gold Dragon among some more broken glass. Walk through the glass and pick it up. You'll be rewarded with four sets of Uzi clips if you have found all the dragons. Look left and you will see an alcove in the wall with another switch...throw this to open the exit doors to the left, and you will also find some Uzi clips there!
Make your way back to the lift and throw the switch to send for it. When it reaches your level, throw the switch again and step into it quickly. As the lift descends, take out your weapons (I always use my Uzis here!) as there will be a couple of hitmen waiting for you at the bottom! Deal with these and take their dropped shotgun shells, two boxes.
There's another switch on the wall near the lifts...throw it to send the lift back up. You can then jump into the water below it. Take three left turns to come to a room with a circuit board in the corner. Pick it up. Remember, you saw this from up above earler?
Return to where you jumped in and surface for air. Swim left, then two immediate rights until you come to an underwater room with pillars and a control panel on the wall, to the right. This has a lever that you can pull to open the exit gate next to it. Make your way back to the second floor by jumping and grabbing to each ledge as far as you can go.
At the other side of the floor you are now on is a door...you can open this with the ornate key you found earlier. This opens the door next to it. Jump over, keeping hold of 'action' as you jump or Lara will bang her head!
Drop down on the other side...this is where the boulder trap was...I'm betting you're pleased you set it off when you did! :-) Push the button on the wall to close the gate at the top of the ladder, then climb back up to the lighting booth through which you first entered the Opera House. Place the circuit board in the control panel and flip the righ-hand switch. This raises the scrim on the stage (screenshot)...if you can't see it from where you are, make sure you have placed the circuit board, then flip the switch up and then down again. The switch also opens a small doorway at the back of the stage area.
Climb back down the ladder, go down the sloped floor and climb in through the door you opened earlier. Make your way carefully to the ground floor as you now need to be on the stage again. A hitman will appear, but you should be able to get to him before you cross the water. He drops some shotgun shells.
As you approach the newly-opened doorway, two thugs and a dog appear...and you will have another falling sandbag to contend with! Once these have been dealt with, search all three bodies for the shotgun shells and small medipack that they drop and then head on through the open door. Go past the crates, take the last left, then left again, then right to see a crate that stands out from the others. Pull this out twice, climb over it and go to the small room beyond where you will find another switch. Pull it to raise the scrim again.
Go out, climb up onto the crate you just pulled out, turn around and jump over to the one above, and you will see an opening in the wall. Climb through it and go to the left, taking care to avoid yet another sandbag. You will see another thug patrolling the stage...shoot him from where you are (screenshot). Go to the right (from where you climbed through the opening) and cross the wooden ledge to another small area. Drop down and you'll see another opening in the floor, but you don't go down there. Instead, jump across it to grab a ledge opposite and pull yourself up.
The next part is quite difficult, so save your game in case you miss. Also, there's a switch on the wall to your right...this opens a door below where you are standing, which will enable you to climb back up if you fall.
The aim is to get past the swinging sandbag safely, which is not easy! You can either just go for it and hope for the best, or stand a step back from the edge, facing the sloping part of the wall on the right and jump to it, hopefully sliding down to a safe part just in front of the sandbag (screenshot). Once you've done that, run past the bag so it doesn't clobber you!
The room beyond is a storage room, but there are several baddies and dogs waiting for you. If you look to the right, you'll see a line of crates along the wall. Jump over to them, carefully avoiding the swinting crate. This will draw out a thug and two dogs which you can get rid of from where you are. However, use your pistols as the thug is surprisingly difficult to get rid of (even your grenade launcher won't kill him!) and you don't want to waste your good ammo! An alternative to this is to get the thug first by hanging from the doorway to draw him out, then pulling back up quickly. Turn around and shoot him from there, taking a step back if he starts to shoot. I use this method as it's safer. You can then jump over to the crates to draw out the dogs and deal with them from there.
Drop down and search for another gunman, but I'd use your shotgun as you'll probably come across him at short range, with little room to maneuver! Get rid of him.
At the opposite end of the room from where you entered, there's a low crate that you can climb. From there make your way across the tops of the other crates, taking great care not to get hit by any of the swinging crates. I tend to jump from safe crate to safe crate, first to the left, then the middle, then the to the right (screenshot). At the end, run and jump to the switch on the wall to open the exit door. Another gunman will come through it, but you should be able to get him from where you are. From the three bodies, you should be able to pick up a small medipack, two sets of Uzi clips and three pairs of grenades (or the grenade gun if you don't already have it).
To end the level, run through the door the final bad guy came through, past the beautiful night view of Venice, and into the open doors of the plane ahead...a cut scene shows Lara being knocked on the head by one of Bartoli's goons!
If you missed anything while playing the PC version, here is the savegame file with all kills, pickups and secrets.
¹If you run out of flares you can fire your pistols repeatedly to shed a little light...a little tip my daughter showed me. :-)
²Irritatingly, if they die on one of the sloping parts of the roof, you may not be able to pick up what they drop. :-(
³For some reason, at times the boulder won't be set off until I actually climb to the area directly above it!