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The Norwegian National Opera and Ballett


In July 1999 Statsbygg was commissioned to plan for a new opera house. In the year 2000 an open architect competition was held which attracted the largest number of entries of any such competition in norway. An international jury selected the architecture firm Snøhetta as the winner.

Norway´s newest landmark, a white marble building, fulfills a more than 120 year dream for Norwegian music fans, used to watching Opera and Ballett in a old downtown theater.

The white stone of the opera seems to rise from the water of the fjord, and the sloping stone roof, made up of 36.000 fitted pieces, was designed to allow visitors to walk up the gentle incline to view the city and the fjord from the top. The inside has been lined with crafted woodwork, and decorated with art.

The opera house is 38.500 square metres in size and has close to 1000 rooms. The 36.000 pieces in the marble and granite jigsaw were completed. All were ready-cut in various shapes and sizes. The foyer also has marble flooring. The house is divided into three main sections: the audience section, the rehearsal and administration section and the workshop section.

The house has three stages: the Main Stage with approximately 1400 seats, Scene 2 with up to 440 seats and Rehearsal Stage 1 with 200 seats. The workshop section with paint workshop, carpentry workshop and smithy was brought into use on 1 September 2007, six months ahead of the original plan.

national Opera house

According to Snøhetta, the architects who designed the building, is the largest cultural building raised in Norway in 700 years, when the Nidaros Cathedral was completed in the city of Trondheim in about 1300.

The opera was built at Bjørvika, near where the Vikings founded the original Oslo 1.000 years ago.

King Harald V officially opened Norways long-awaited national Opera house, kicking off a gala performance before royalty, national leaders and music lovers. "Innermost in the Oslo Fjord, the opera house rises as a new and monumental landmark," said King Harald in declaring the opera open. "This house for many generations to come will be filled with music, dance and song." Opera director Bjørn Simonsen said: "This is a building that will change the way the world sees us, and the way we see ourselves."

The Norwegian National Opera and Ballett is the first fully professional company for opera and ballet in Norway. Its seat is the Oslo Opera House. It was founded in 1957. Kirsten Flagstad, the great Norwegian soprano, was its general manager from 1958 to 1960.

hallway by the foyer

Oak is a widely used material indoors in the new opera house, such as here in a hallway by the foyer.


The building contains advanced stage technology, particularly on the Main Stage and Stage 2. The Main Stage has 16 elevators that can be moved up and down independently. It has a moveable rotating stage, two side stages and a background stage. Stage 2 will also be equipped with advanced theatre technology and a very advanced electro-acoustic system.


The main goal for the opera house project was that the building should manifest itself as an important monument that both highlights Norway as a nation of culture and the Norwegian Opera & Ballett´s significance in The Norwegian culture and society. The huge interest the project has generated during the construction period indicates that this goal will be achieved. During the construction period Statsbygg has hosted and informed more than 70 000 people on various aspects of the building.

In 2007 it has largely been the technical contracts that have been carried out. That is to say electrical, heating, ventilation and plumbing and not least theatre technology. In addition the final decoration work has been completed.

the chandelier

The audience seating has been installed and the chandelier in the Main Stage has been hoisted into place. It was designed and built in cooperation between Snøhetta, Eidskog Mekaniske Verksted and Hadeland Glassworks and has a diameter of seven metres.

national Opera house


Statsbygg has cooperated closely with societies for the disabled during the entire construction period. They have been given access to drafts and provided several suggestions that have been taken into account. One example is "talking signs", which guide the blind and visually impaired. The stages will be equipped with induction loops and the Main Stage has a total of 72 possible wheelchair spaces.


A total of 60 building contracts have been supervised. The project management organization has changed according to requirements, but has on average consisted of 20 individuals and project director Roar Bjordal from Statsbygg. In addition, the project organization has had 30 associated foremen. During the entire project period there has been close cooperation with The Norwegian Opera & Ballet.

The opera house is a very complex building and it has been demanding for everyone who has participated in the project. The market situation in recent years has also presented a challenge; it has been difficult to attract bids, and the prices offered have frequently been well above budget. This has necessitated certain simplifications and close control of finances in order to complete the project within budgetary constraints.