Photographer's Note

The Copenhagen Opera House (in Danish usually called Operaen) is the national opera house of Denmark, and among the most modern opera houses in the world.
The house is administered by the Royal Danish Theatre and is one of the best-equipped in the world. It has a main stage with five other stages directly connected, where large setups can be moved easily in and out.

There are between 1492 and 1703 seats, depending on the size of the orchestra. The 1492 seats are all individually angled in order to provide the best experience.

The orchestra pit provides room for 110 musicians and the building provides excellent sound quality for the orchestra. If the pit is filled, some musicians are located below a part of the stage, which has become controversial among members of the orchestra (according to tour guides in 2005), because this increases the sound levels beyond those acceptable in Denmark. However, the authorities have permitted this to happen. (Similar problems have dogged the smallish Opera theatre of the Sydney Opera House). During the building of the house, acoustic tests were carried out with the iron curtain in place while technical work was carried out on stage, so little consideration was given to balance between pit and stage. If the orchestra is small or absent, the pit can be covered and more seats can be present in the auditorium.
The entrance to the Opera House

Just like the old Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen, the Queen has her own balcony on the left side of the auditorium, closest to the stage. According to the tour guide, she decided that she preferred this arrangement rather than the more conventional central placement because she loves to be close to the stage to see the artists preparing behind the sidewalls before entering the stage.

The foyer has been designed for comfort, based on behavioural research on operagoers maximizing the wall area for standing against, while still providing views across the entire foyer and one of the best views on Copenhagen.

Guided tours cover most of the building, including both the auditorium and backstage areas.

The building was designed by architect Henning Larsen in close and often problematic cooperation with Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller. Mærsk wanted to ensure that the building would last for many years, wouldn't look bad after a number of years and wouldn't be an economic compromise. He personally tested seats and materials, he visited many places in the world to see how Operas were constructed and how the building materials were looking after having been exposed to weather for years. Henning Larsen, on the other hand, was trying to make sure that the original architectural ideas were carried through the construction process, especially concerning the large glass surface front, which became a matter of great controversy and subsequent compromise. [2]

The building itself has an outside surface of Jura Gelb limestone. Canals have been dug to make the Opera look as if it were placed on an island just a bit larger than the building itself. This also meant that bridges were needed, and these bridges were made using very old oak, that was planted in the 19th century for the purpose of growing trees for a new national fleet, after having lost the old fleet to the Royal Navy after their bombardment of Copenhagen in September 1807. The front of the opera was originally meant to have a large glass surface, where you could see the shell of the auditorium from the harbor side. However, as Mærsk put it, glass does not age well, so the front was changed to have a metal grid in front of it.

The foyer floor is Sicilian Perlatino marble. There are three very remarkable lamps in the central part of the foyer, created by the Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. Each lamp consists of a very large number of pieces of glass, which are semipermeable (some light passes, some light reflects) with different permeability from different angles. Per Arnoldi designed the logo for the opera, which is visible in the marble floor just inside the entrance, and Per Kirkeby created four bronze reliefs for the wall to the auditorium, just below the maple wood part. Per Arnoldi also designed the large main curtain for the main stage, which is not only very special, but also impossible to take a picture of. It uses optical tricks to obtain a kind of three-dimensional effect, and the colors are rarely reproduced well on photographs.

The wall of the auditorium towards the foyer, and the wood of the balconies, is maple wood. It was originally the intention to make the maple wood look exactly the same way as the wood from a violin, by using the same technique, but that would have been far too expensive. Instead, they have tried to imitate the color using more traditional dying techniques, and the result is very close (the official homepage says differently, but the guides in the Opera tell this story). Due to the orange color and its form, it is suitably known by locals as the pumpkin.

The ceiling inside the auditorium is made using 105,000 sheets of gold leafs, almost 24 carat (100%). Pure 24 carat (100%) wouldn't stick well enough.[citation needed]

The floor in the main audience room is smoked oak. The balconies have been designed with holes in a very special pattern, that improve sound quality, as well as LED-based lighting that can be used in a variety of ways.

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Additional Photos by Massimo Ferrali (Maximo) Silver Star Critiquer/Silver Note Writer [C: 12 W: 0 N: 14] (230)
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