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It was to be one of the iconic modern buildings of Europe, on par with the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Dutch embassy in Berlin and Palace of the Arts in Valencia. And that is exactly what happened. The new accommodation for Den Norske Opera & Ballett appears to float in the Oslo Fjord like a glistening iceberg. It’s also the only opera house in the world where you can stand on the roof.
Oslo is reinventing itself. Standing on the rooftop of the opera house, you can see building excavations and cranes in every direction. Next to the central railway station in the heart of the city, the cluttered harbour area is being transformed into a second centre, with apartments, offices, shops, hotels and cultural venues. A promenade with sea views for strolling, skating and shopping is also being created. The ambitious restructuring of the area is expected to be completed in 2020. The showpiece already opened back in 2008: an opera house with a price tag of 600 million euros.
The construction of the Opera House was calculated to have cost 1,000 euros per resident – an exorbitant amount in a time of crisis in the eyes of many Oslo residents. But now that the building designed by architectural firm Snøhetta is in place, the protests have faded and most locals are filled with pride. This topsy-turvy building of glass, treated aluminium, white marble and green granite appears like a glistening iceberg floating in the water. That image is most clear during the winter, when the sloping surfaces are covered with snow and the opera ‘iceberg’ blends into the drift ice in the Oslo Fjord.
The bizarre exterior may be the most unique aspect of the building, but no expenses were spared for the interior either. Undulating surfaces of blond oak strips cover the foyer and halls, the wardrobe is covered in geometrical perforated glass and the enormous stage curtain in the main hall – with 1,350 seats – appears to be made out of crumpled aluminium foil. The foyer and roof are open to all visitors. Guided tours are offered in English on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and on Sunday at 1:00 pm and Saturday at noon.
“The Opera House of glass and marble seems a glistening iceberg floating in the water”
This exquisite building is a popular destination for a night out. Around 300 performances are held each year. It is the home base of the Den Norske Opera & Ballett, whose past performances include Mozart’s ‘Don Giovanni’ and Tchaikovsky’s ‘Swan Lake’. Concerts by renowned symphony orchestras like the Berliner Philharmoniker and Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest have also performed here. Every performance in the main hall includes a free introduction presentation. Tickets vary from 12 euros for standing room to 120 euros for front row seats and can be purchased at the ticket window or online atwww.operaen.no