|"A flagship for Norwegian architecture and engineering skill", says Minister of Culture Trond Giske. "Grand, but also intimate", says dancer Ingrid Lorentzen. Superlatives flow, and they are all true. The official opening was on 12 April 2008. The new opera house has been greeted with great enthusiasm.
It almost feels as if the dream of a Sydney opera house in Norway has come true. After years of wrangling on location, design and choice of materials, the new opera house in Oslo is ready for use and will soon be filled with culture.
The opera house was designed by Norwegian architects Snohetta. Set in Bjorvika Bay, it has the look of a snow-covered plateau or a boat when seen from the fjord. The roof landscape, clad with Italian marble, is open to the public.
The building has 1100 rooms and is the workplace for 600 people. The stage area consists of a main stage, understage, side stages and backstages covering several thousand square metres. The main auditorium can seat 1358. The floor, walls, balcony fronts and parts of the ceiling are made of oak. From the ceiling hangs Norway's largest and possibly most beautiful chandelier. The horseshoe-shaped main auditorium has a stage measuring 16 x 16 metres, which has 16 individual elements that can be elevated, angled and rotated to create landscapes on the stage. Nine-metre-high scenery sets can be prepared under the stage and elevated during performances. The size and height of the orchestra pit can be adjusted to suit the orchestra and the scenography. An individual text display system has been installed to provide text translations into eight languages and other information of interest.
The foyer is a large, open area with varied lighting and a fine view of the fjord. In addition to an intermission area it has cloakrooms, toilet facilities, an opera shop, restaurant, cafeteria and bars. Its most eye-catching feature is the high, wave-curved wall of oak separating the foyer from the theatres.
One of the criteria for success for an opera house is its acoustics. During the planning of the building, 243 computer-animated models were developed. By playing musical recordings into these models, it was possible to determine which design and materials would give the desired tone and timbre. The design of the auditorium has also helped to create proximity between the performers and the audience.