Why you should visit the enchanting Oslo Opera House

Oslo Opera HousePhoto: Alexandra von Gutthenbach - Lindau / Pixabay

No trip to Oslo is complete without a stop at the magnificent Oslo Opera House.

Also known as the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, every inch of this contemporary building is made to be seen, heard, and touched.

Attend an orchestra concert, and you’ll understand how taking control of an entire room lies in the musicians’ hands. The House’s onsite art space explains the dynamics of a concert hall, featuring hands-on, interactive artwork by a range of international artists.

One thing is for sure: Norway’s largest cultural building was not built to disappoint.

The Oslo Opera House’s architecture and design: blending edginess and sophistication

The waterfront Oslo Opera House was built by daring Norwegian design studio Snøhetta not afraid to match the elegant with the avant-garde.

This is a unique opera house; retaining an atmosphere of refinement without the “don’t touch anything” vibe. The Oslo Opera House is meant to be interacted with, touched, and even stepped on – it has a fully walkable rooftop! 

So how did its one-of-a-kind design come about?

The House was one of the most prominent buildings to be featured in Oslo’s revitalization plan, and it was given special attention for two main reasons: to redevelop the city’s industrial harbor into an industrial space, and to further facilitate Norway’s close relationship to nature by allowing the building to be walked on and explored, just as like country’s natural landscapes.

The Oslo Fjord is perhaps the Opera House’s most prominent architectural influence. According to the Opera House’s official website, the waters of the Oslo Fjord are “considered the keystone signature” of the Opera House.

Oslo Norway skyline
Oslofjord is an important part of the city’s collective identity. Photo: Christoffer Engstrom / Unsplash

The main materials used in the construction of the Opera House are stone, wood, and metal. Throughout parts of the building’s exterior, marble is featured, while oak decorates the foyer, public gallery, and Main House.

The facades on the roof are aluminum. Marble also covers the roof, proudly guarding a series of floor-to-ceiling glass walls.

The building’s characteristic rooftop was created in an effort to tie human-made architecture to natural beauty. While walking on the marble roof, you’ll see that surrounding your footsteps are signatures from the famous Norwegian artists Kristian Blystad, Kalle Grude, and Jorunn Sannes, all of whom contributed to the dynamic roofscape.

You’ll additionally be treated with views of the fjord archipelago, the city skyline of Oslo, and the surrounding hills and mountains.

When you step off the roof and into the main auditorium, look up and you’ll be greeted with a central chandelier made of LED lights, arranged to mimic a full moon.

The Opera House’s large inner space, filled with architectural artwork, is open to the public to create unusual surfaces, promote the importance of art, and, in effect, entice the general public. One such example is the walls of ribbed cladding, created by Danish-Icelandic architect Olafur Eliasson.

The Oslo Opera House additionally hosts two interactive, smaller stages, which feature theater technology, workshops, and rehearsal rooms.

Beneath the theater’s LED-lit chandelier masterpiece, you can catch all sorts of productions from Juoiggas i operaen, presented by the Sámi National Theater, to Romeo and Juliet

Introducing the Oslo Opera House’s regular performers

The entire Norwegian National Opera and Ballet complex additionally includes the Norwegian National Opera Orchestra, Chorus, and Ballet School. Let’s take a look at each of these components individually, and observe how they unite the Opera House into a single arena gushing with creativity and art.

The Norwegian National Opera was first established in 1959 by Norwegian opera singer and director Kirsten Flagstad. It was originally located on Youngstorget, a beloved square in Oslo. In 2008, the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet was relocated to the Bjorvika neighborhood in Oslo. That same year, the opera and ballet joined the Oslo Opera House.

As of today, this is Norway’s only professional opera and it consists of both an adult chorus and children’s chorus. The opera includes 13 soloists, the adult chorus has 53 members, and the children’s chorus 70.

61 Norwegian and international dancers are members of the Norwegian National Ballet. 15 young and up-and-coming dancers partake in the second company, the Norwegian National Ballet 2. The Norwegian National Ballet 2 includes 13 Norwegian and foreign professional dancers, aged 17 to 23.

If you had to choose a single experience at the Oslo Opera, we recommend listening to at least one of the original scores, choral interpretations, and powerful harmonies of the prestigious National Opera Chorus. The chorus regularly takes part in scheduled operas, along with their own concerts.

Everything from violins and cellos to trumpets and trombones uniquely meshes into the goosebumps-inducing melodies of the Norwegian National Opera Orchestra. Over 100 Norwegian and international musicians play over 160 opera and ballet performances, along with three or four symphonic concerts on the opera house’s main stage.

While the National Opera was only established in 1959, the orchestra is over a century older. In 1827, one of the first locations the orchestra performed at is Strombergs Theater, in Oslo (which later, unfortunately, burned down). The Christiania Theatre’s opening in 1837, and the National Theatre’s opening in 1899, served as the orchestra’s headquarters until the opera’s establishment in 1959. The orchestra regularly collaborates with the talented Italian conductor Rinaldo Alessandrini on his chillingly beautiful interpretations of Mozart.

Oslo Opera House
The outstanding Oslo Opera House features a fully walkable rooftop with panoramic views of the surrounding city and Oslofjord. Photo: Alexandra von Gutthenbach-Lindau / Pixabay

What to see at the Oslo Opera House

Regular classics the National Ballet takes on include Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and The Nutcracker.

The opera house also interprets international works, such as those of Jiří Kylian, a Czech choreographer, and William Forsythe, an American dancer renowned for his abstract take on ballet, to name a few.

Previous fall shows that were extremely popular at The House have also included a show based off of Leo Tolstoy‘s Anna Karenina (November 16, 2019), Richard Wagner‘s musical drama The Valkyrie (September 10-13, 2019), and The Hamlet Complex Redux (September 4-12, 2019), inspired by William Shakespeare‘s original.

If you don’t already consider the opera building a work of art in itself, maybe its eight art projects inside will convince you otherwise. Inside, behold sights such as the stage curtain Metafoil by Pae White, and the white-lit installations in the foyer by Olafur Eliasson, called The Other Wall.

One prominent outdoor work of art that’s worth the walk to is Monica Bonvicini‘s sculpture She Lies, anchored in the accompanying harbor.

We’re bringing you a list of all events at the Oslo Opera House in 2021, when the coronavirus will have, hopefully, significantly subsided. As of now, the only concerts booked for 2021 are in June:

The schedule is likely to become much more full – you can find a full list of shows slated for the rest of 2020 (though they may be subject to change) and follow updates for next year and beyond at the Oslo Opera website here.

Oslo opera house reflection
Crowds mingle outside of the innovatively designed Oslo Opera House. Photo: Oliver Cole / Unsplash

Source: Norway Today


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