The Oslo Opera House is the home of The Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, and the national opera theatre in Norway. The building is situated in Bjørvika downtown Oslo. It is located on Kirsten Flagstads square nr 1 after the famous Norwegian opera singer and first opera manager Kirsten Flagstad. During their first year, 1.3 million people visited the opera house, which made it Oslo’s most visited tourist attraction.
The structure, designed by the architectural firm Snøhetta, contains 1,100 rooms in a total area of 414,000 sq. ft. The main auditorium seats 1,364 people in addition to two other performance stages that can seat 200 and 400 people. The main stage is 52 ft. wide and 130 ft. deep. It is the largest cultural building constructed in Norway since the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim was completed around 1300.
The angled exterior surfaces of the building are covered with Italian marble and white granite and make it appear to rise from the water. The stage tower is clad in white aluminum in a design by Løvaas & Wagle evoking old weaving patterns.
The lobby is surrounded by 49 ft. tall windows with minimal framing and special glass that allows maximum views of the water. The roof is supported by thin angled columns also designed not to interfere with views. Interior surfaces are covered in oak to bring warmness in contrast to the coolness of the white exterior.
The main auditorium is decorated with the largest chandelier in Norway. It weighs 8.5 tons and has a diameter of 23 ft. The light contain of 8000 LEDs, which together with 5,800 handmade crystals are mounted in 31 light chords. The design is also by Snøhetta, in cooperation with Hadeland Glassverk. The chandelier is not only for decoration but also works as an acoustic reflector in the auditorium.
In two of the auditoriums, the seats include monitors for the electronic libretto system, allowing audiences to follow opera libretti in Norwegian and English in addition to the original language.
Several art projects were commissioned for the interior and exterior of the Opera House. The most notable is ‘She Lies’, a sculpture constructed of stainless steel and glass panels by Monica Vonvicini. It is permanently installed on a concrete platform in the fjord adjacent to the Opera House and floats on the water moving in response to tides and wind to create an ever-changing face to viewers.
A perforated wall panel which covers roof supports in the lobby was designed by Olafur Eliasson. It features hexagonal opening and is illuminated from below to create the illusion of melting ice.
The main stage curtain is the work of Pae White who designed it to look like crumpled aluminum foil. White scanned a crumpled piece of foil into a computer which translated the information to a loom that wove the curtain from wool, cotton and polyester to create a three-dimensional effect. The finished curtain measures 74 ft. wide and 36 ft. and weighs 1,100 lb.
The Oslo Opera House has won several awards for its unique design, including the culture award at the World Architecture Festival in Barcelona in 2008 and the 2009 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture (Mies van der Rohe award).
Text modified by: Anette Broteng Christiansen, ThorNews
Photos: Anette Broteng Christiansen, ThorNews