With fantastically designed interiors and exteriors, Oslo Opera House is a hub of music, dance and plays within the Nordic capital.
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Located in the heart of the city, the Opera House is a hop, skip and jump away from Oslo central station. It is a white granite and marble plaza angled up from the ground, with a high glass facade, making the building unique, eye-catching and handsome. It has a combination of the white carrara marble walls on one end to the glass ones on the other. This demands attention from any passer-by. The pristine glow to it is juxtaposed with the swishing waters of the Oslo fjord. In fact, the gentle incline of the building encourages a climb. That, in turn, shows a wonderful, panoramic view of the city and water.
The latter houses the moving art piece commissioned for the Opera House, She Lies, a stainless steel and glass sculpture that changes how it faces the Opera House by the whims of the tide. The effect of this visage upon the onlookers is one of cool tranquility; it is almost like the Opera House cut itself a sliver of gentleness in the hustle and bustle of the city.
The interior retains this quaint quality. It has wavy wooden walls, warm yellow lighting, and balconies with non-obscured views. The Opera House seems also to have taken it upon itself not only to hold art, but to become it. The lobby wall is perforated, creating an illusion of melting ice when illuminated. The Opera House is large, and inviting. Its foyers and halls can be explored with quiet contemplation and subtle appreciation. Thankfully, there are guided tours in both English and Norwegian, allowing this curiosity to be sated.
The feather in its cap is, of course, its main performance hall. It is able to seat over 1,300 people, with each seat spacious and comfortable, and providing a small screen for English and Norwegian subtitles to accompany any play not in those languages.
The hall was designed as carefully as the rest of the Opera House, and complements the arts. Its horse-shoe shape creates a resonation of acoustics, allowing the musicians and singers the freedom to perform without microphones.
The stage is curtained by an artwork by Pae White, and on first glance, one would think it is part of the upcoming performance instead of a mere cover. Even once it is pulled away, the lighting, with its range of intensity, colours and angles, continues to enhance the performances, revealing, hiding and creating mood as the plays demand.
The Opera House seems to have taken this motif of design and efficiency and extended it to places one wouldn’t expect. From the tables of the bars in the Opera House, to the sinks of the lavatories, to the spacious cloak rooms, each aspect of the Opera House sets one at ease and appeals to the senses. Why, this customer was so pleased at the end of my experience there, I found myself in its gift shop, wishing to express some thanks for the joyful evening it provided.
Text: Akif Rashid / Photos by Dina Johnsen
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