Copenhagen's Operaen is Denmark’s national opera house. This extraordinary, pioneering performance space is one of Theatreplan’s landmark projects.
Together with architects, Henning Larsen, Theatreplan worked on all elements of new complex, introducing theatrical innovations across the main opera house. Seating up to 1700 people, the stunning auditorium is horseshoe shaped and set across three tiers, allowing for a great sense of intimacy for the audience and performers.
The stage engineering requirements were extensive, across six stages, including a main stage, two side stages, a rear stage, a fit-up stage area and a further stage space. Theatreplan designed a new type of wagon system which transfers sets between stages, while a purpose-built ballet floor under the rear stage can be raised to stage level so that the switch from opera to ballet can be made quickly and simply. This versatile stage floor system also incorporates a 15m revolve which is built within a full-size stage wagon. A flexible orchestra pit can be used on several levels and has its own elevator which can transfer instruments between the pit and the rehearsal hall, four floors below. This pioneering design has since been copied numerous times in other concert halls and opera houses throughout the world.
Theatreplan also worked on the studio space ‘Takkelloftet’ used for chamber opera, recitals, ballet, contemporary dance and new writing. It has 200 retractable seats and 16 mobile audience towers on high-pressure air bearings, providing innumerable performance configurations. A technical gallery with a tensioned wire grid above enables acoustics to be changed for the needs of the scheduled performance.
Delivered to time and on budget, the Opera House has been commended as being “absolutely stunning” and of the highest quality throughout. It has taken its place among the great performing arts buildings in the world.
In late 2015 Theatreplan was invited back to undertake a wide-ranging 10-year review. In response to our report, the A.P. Møller and Chastine McKinney Møller Foundation announced a substantial further grant to maintain the opera house’s sizeable technical infrastructure. We were re-engaged by the Royal Danish Theatre to design, specify and monitor the installation of stage machinery control upgrades; enhanced orchestra elevators; upgraded sound, video and communications infrastructure; upgraded production, work light and houselight systems, and a new architectural lighting scheme. The works were phased and took place during the summer closures of 2017 and 2018. This work will ensure that the Operaen remains one of the world’s great opera houses for many years to come.
Photographs by Adam Moerk
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Sound Stage engineering
- IABSE Outstanding Structure Award
- United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT): Merit Award for Theatre Architecture
- The Association of the Danish Flooring Industry: Floor Award (Gulvprisen)
- Byggeri (Building Magazine): Selected Buildings