About the opera house
The Göteborg Opera house was inaugurated in 1994 and is next to Lilla Bommen by the Göteborg harbour. Opera, dance, musicals and concerts are all performed here under the same roof.
When architect Jan Izikowitz was first sketching ideas for the Göteborg Opera, he drew inspiration not only from the opera world, but also from the splendid harbour landscape which is central to Gothenburg’s culture and aesthetic. One can see silhouettes of ships, hulls, sails, bridges and harbour cranes echoed in the building’s design.
Bridges, booms, rigs and yards
There are in fact many words connected to the stage that have to do with sea-faring, because historically it was ship builders that built the stage machinery, and sailors were often recruited to do work high above the stage floor. Today steering systems are of course totally automated, but many of the old names remain, like bridges, booms, rigs and yards.
The Göteborg Opera has an area 28 700 m². Around 500 people work in the building’s 1117 rooms, which house metalwork, carpentry and decor workshops, tailoring and costume studios as well as ballet and rehearsal rooms. The house in Gothenburg has two stages: the Main Stage and the Small Stage. The Main Stage is 500 m², behind which there is an enormous space, approximately five times the size of the stage itself. Also worth mentioning is the our sheet music library, where 15 tons of sheet music is stored.
Two opera houses
The Göteborg Opera in fact consists of 2 different houses: one is in Gothenburg which is described above, but we also have a house in Skövde, which we call the Skövde Stage. Each season we also perform on several different houses in the Västra Götaland region. Our tours give us a chance to meet new audiences, both in Sweden and abroad.
When the Göteborg Opera was inaugurated the stagecraft was the most advanced in the world. After a comprehensive renovation in 2009 the opera house was once again one of the best in the world in this field.
On the Main Stage there are four vertically adjustable platforms. They each weigh 15 tons and at the press of a button they can be lowered down to the cellar, seven metres under the stage. The accuracy of position between the platforms is between +/- 0.3 mm. Sensors in the floor automatically set off an alarm if anything is wrong.
The stage machinery is programmed by frequency. Music and stage cues are synchronised by dividing the performance into a number of sections. If the music is of a high tempo there can be up to 500 sections in one performance. A production team consisting of a director, a scenographer, and a choreographer decide together when and how all of the stage directions should occur, then the stage manager takes over. The stage manager is like a technical conductor who makes sure that set changes, lighting and sound are in sync with the music.
200 screens around the building show what is happening on stage at all moments, so the off-stage ensemble can follow the performance from their dressing rooms. When it is time to go on stage the stage manager calls them down via the monitors.
All for the sake of acoustics
Creation of the best possible acoustics was the absolute starting point when the Main auditorium was built. It holds about 1 300 people and has a classic octagonal form, eight-sided with parallel side walls. The width of 26.5 metres is adapted in such a way to allow the side reflectors to swing the sound all the way into the middle of the auditorium. In order to enhance the warm tone many of the reflectors have been made concave instead of convex.
Even the chairs are carefully chosen in order to meet the acoustic demands. One chair corresponds to one person as far as sound absorption is concerned. In this way there is a minimum of difference in acoustics between a full-house on opening night and an empty auditorium during rehearsals.
The Göteborg Opera has 250 000 visitors per year and about 270 performances are given on the different stages. Several international stars have visited the opera house through the years, including Nina Stemme, Peter Mattei and Katarina Dalayman.
The Opera House
- Area 28 700 m2
- Height 32 m
- Length 160 m
- Breadth < 85 m
- Rooms 1 117
- Volume 187 400 m3
The Main Stage
- Area 500 m2
- Proscenium opening 20x9 m
- Height of ceiling above stage 38 m
- 1100 spotlights
- 250 automatic colour-changers 900 dimmers
- Audience 1276
- Stalls 758
- Balcony 484
- Gallery seating 34