Opera houses are a Scandinavian speciality. For good reason: connectedness with nature is something that exists across Scadinavian architecture, the essence of which doesn’t dwindle as the projects go up in scale. The world’s best opera houses bring in both physical and symbolic elements from the surrounding nature. The Sydney Opera House, designed by Danish architect Utzon, with its stunning roof in a wave formation, is a perfect complement to surf and nature of the Australian east coast.
Inside, the aim of an opera house is to create an interior that supports the human voice, the orchestra, the stage, the costumes, the sets, the lighting. From the outside, it’s a neat shell; an enormous canvas for an architect to create something beautiful, iconic, and has the power to transform a city.
Oslo has its own inspiring opera house, considered to be one of the most iconic modern buildings of Scandinavia. Some say that the Oslo Opera House (Operahuset in Norwegian) resembles a glacier, slowly sliding into the lapping water of the fjord. Others say the building looks like a ski slope, or a ship. The interior theatre is shaped like a horseshoe for maximum viewing capability. There are art installations throughout the building, including the perforated wall panel that hides supports for the ceiling, designed by Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson.
The best part? You can walk on the roof.
The Oslo Opera House was designed by the Oslo-based architectural firm Snøhetta, who won the architectural bid in 1999. They began construction in 2003, and opened their doors in 2008. It cost around €500 million to build, and is now home to The Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, and the National Opera Theatre in Norway. As a modern 21st century building, it’s the opposite of the formal opera houses of the 19th century. All the functions that you normally see hidden inside are pushed to the outside, so people can see through the windows into the worlds of scenography, painting, costuming, and the ballet rehearsal rooms.
This white monolithic structure, dominated by white marble, glass and wood, has had a massive effect on Oslo. It has become their centres of arts and culture, while also creating a public space for people to meet. It’s a photographer’s dream of interplay between light and angles.
Follow us on this photographic tour of the Oslo Opera House.
Visit the Oslo Opera House
Kirsten Flagstads Plass 1
Mon – Fri 10:00 am – 7:00 pm
Sat 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
Sun 12:00 – 6:00 pm
Need more to do in Oslo? Check out these tourist sights. If you’re looking for Norwegian fjord adventures, be sure to use our guide.