Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Oslo Opera House

Totally worth a post all on its own, as you will see: the Oslo Opera House!

Friday, April Fool's Day, was our first full day in Norway, after spending Thursday night at Diane and Renny's. It was cold but SUNNY. That was the day we took a 2-hour cruise on the Oslo Fjord to see the city from a different perspective.

Seeing the Opera House from the water was worth the entire mini-cruise!
Completed in 2007 (a year after Donica and I were there), it is like an enormous glacier sliding into the fjord. White granite combines with Italian marble to create the illusion of glistening ice. The sloping roof angles down to the water like a jagged chunk of ice.

On Sunday, 2 days later, when we went with our Oslo Pass to visit this incredible structure, the fog made of it a mystery to behold.

But first, before entering, we got distracted by the swans and ducks,
navigating on and off the ice for the bread crumbs being tossed to them...

...but not for long, because it was the Opera House we were there to see...if we could!
THIS is what welcomed us. THIS is what beckoned us to enter.

You actually do find the main entrance, even in the fog.
And just like that, you come in from the iceberg cold to the warmth of light (through windows that are 15 meters high) and oak 'waves' that curve/flow around the room.

Wall panels, like the one Astrid is putting her arm through, are illuminated from the floor and from behind with beams of white and green light. The lights fade in and out, creating shifting shadows and the illusion of slowly melting ice.

Diane really wanted us to take the Opera House Tour, approximately one hour, so thanks to her, we did! All tour guides work in some capacity or another there at the House. Our guide is an opera singer and was just delightful.

So, back behind the scenes, we entered the world of the opera and ballet.
The props, the sound system, the nuts and bolts of putting on a performance.

The costumes (which we found out after a few snaps were not to be photographed)....

The sewing room: "We don't make mistakes; we do variations."

And finally, the heart of the House, the main theater, seating approximately 1,370 in a classic horseshoe shape. The tour didn't take us to the ground floor but what we saw from above was convincing. Diane saw The Nutcracker there this past December and said it was incredible.

While we didn't see a real ballet while there,
we saw enough evidence to believe it happens!

That was the behind-the-scenes tour. Another "totally worth it!"

Then we went outside to play....

...and to see the famous "She Lies" iceberg sculpture sitting out in the water nearby, a sculpture made of stainless steel and glass, 12 x 17 x 16 metres, floating on its axis in line with the tide and wind.

At the beginning of this post, you saw the Opera House from the ground. Here you see if from the roof...the only Opera House in the world where you are able to walk up to and on the roof.

Two posts ago I showed you Diane and Astrid up there on the roof....
(the wall surfaces remind me of Braille)

Look who else was there! Two brothers, Daddy, Mommy and their dog.
There are no guard rails on the roof. Seriously. But there are signs to remind you that the roof has many steps and may be slippery. That should do for any tiger, right?

Even though it was still foggy by then, we could see a lot...and how high we were!
That's Astrid's mirror image on the bottom left (above).

One last reminder, as we were leaving, that the ice was not safe.
The little children had it down pat.

See why this had to have its own post. It ranks up there with some of the best architectural treasures I've ever seen, including the Opera House in Sydney. And that's saying a lot!


  1. Again you really know how to capture a day in all the details! I love your collages...I mean look at all those forbidden photos of the costumes tee hee hee!! I don't think anyone will be stealing their designs from here, its safe with us! And the photos of the little boy with the facepaint. You did a lovely collage of him...and as you say - I love that fog!! Glad to know you enjoyed the trip. I consider the tour a must after we did it at the Oslo blog gathering. Not only is it intereseting to go behind the scenes but I think the guides are excellent making it really one of the most interesting tours I have ever taken - twice.

  2. Hi Ginnie, this is going to be a long comment (which is not like me, usually).

    I was trying to figure out what it was about the main entrance to the Oslo Opera House that immediately reminded me of the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa. So I searched images online:

    If you click on the link (which is the results of a Yahoo! image search) you will see that the Museum of Civilization's Great Hall is a big open space with a wall of tall windows creating lots of light, but it does not much look like the foyer of the Opera House. Then it dawned on me. When I was looking at your lovely photos, my brain had conflated the exterior of the Museum of Civilization (which has brick and mortar waves similar to the wooden waves in the Opera House) with the spaciousness and natural light of its Great Hall, and made the association with the beautiful foyer of the Oslo Opera House. So yes, I believe there is some similarity there between the two buildings, it's just not immediately obvious.

    I think there is something in me that really loves modern architecture, even more than historical architecture which is always very interesting too. So I must say I really enjoyed this post, as you can tell from the long comment.

  3. That first photo of the opera house is stunning – the blues the grays and white and the sun reflections in the right place – bravo! The Oslo Opera House is a great piece of architecture and Norwegians have a right to be proud of it. Your collages showed the building well. You make me want to go back and look at my pictures – but I can’t right now - I shall as soon as we are back.

  4. Diane: Didn't we have a magnificent day together! That was so much fun. And thank you again for the tour, which was definitely worthwhile. The place is a stunning masterpiece of architure, on par with the Sydney Opera House.

    Karen: Not like you, indeed! :) How fun to find this out about you. I have just Googled your Museum of Civilization and totally agree with your comparison.

    Vagabonde: It amazes me how the change in weather made this masterpiece look like a different place. We were lucky to see both. Thank you for your kind words. One day you'll go back to see your own images. Happy memories for us both.

  5. As I said in a previous comment, I am green with envy that you not only got to enter the Operahuset, but now I see that you went backstage, and into the sewing room. My mother, who is a passionate quilter, would have loved to have seen that. Those three jewel-toned hoop skirts on the mannequins - to die for!

    I love that shot of you and Astrid, side by side with your camera to your faces. Too cute!

    I will add a link to this post to mine:

  6. To my eye the opera house looks best in fog. This set of montages is exceptional, each one a delight. You make it all look completely photogenic.

  7. DB: It was a fabulous day and place. I actually liked seeing it in the fog even more than the sunshine, though I'm glad we saw both. Thanks for adding this post as a link to yours from last September. You've honored me. It was good to re-read yours and remember back to when you were there.

    Ted: I was glad to see the House first in the sunshine and then later in the fog. I would agree about liking the fog the most...because I am such a glutton for foggy images. You would love the place and would have a heyday there with your own camera.

  8. Wow - The opera house is so beautiful. The only thing that I think about as a resemblance is the Opera house in Lucerne.

    What great photos! It does look like the tour was well worth it too!

  9. Yep, it's really such a spectacular architecture. Verrrry interesting.

    - And I agree totally with Diane: I love your collages with photos!

  10. ET: I tried to find a picture of the Lucerne Opera House to compare but wasn't successful. I'll take your word for it. Oslo's was definitely worth seeing!

    LTB: Thank you so much for stopping by again. That means the world to me!

  11. For the second time I'm back trying to leave a comment on your most recent post... there is something somewhere on the page that Firefox is not happy with because it is posting the "Waiting for ..." notice and doesn't stop... then eventually the browser hangs on me and I cannot do anything but force quit...

    So bear with me while I try to comment on a few of your marvelous images... will come back after posting this in case everything hangs up again on me!

  12. Alright... here I am with my list of favorite images from this post... after reading/viewing I feel as if I've been there myself!

    1- STUNNING image to start off with the Opera House reflected in the fjord.
    2- Foggy exterior images with the splash of color from Astrid's red coat! (How will I find here when the weather warms up?)
    3- Stolen images of the costumes (always love to sneak a few unauthorized images myself but realize from your post that you didn't know it wasn't allowed)
    4- Main theater collage...
    5- The ballerina images... wonderful!
    6- The exterior images, She Lies and rooftop collages!
    7- The face painted boy... MARVELOUS... with the other children surrounding the large image and him repeated in exactly the right spot in the smaller shot!
    8- and the children at the very end.

    Well I do like them all but those are my favorites going down the page... And I definitely see why this had to have its own post!

  13. Awesome tour! What a wondrous structure, and don't you just love the behind the scenes oppurtunities?
    It was magic, including the fog and swans and tigers. Thank you, ladies, once again.

  14. Victoria: You tickle me to death when you start telling me your favorites. THANK YOU! Only one correction: the one smaller painted boy tiger is the older brother of the big image...not the same boy. You'd have to blow it up bigger to see the differance, I guess. It was the younger boy that stole my heart. I do love seeing the children around the world. The older I get, the more I adore them. Interestingly. :)

    Thank you for your persistence in leaving a comment. You are something else, Lady!

    WS: Thank you, Susan. Yes, I love seeing what goes on behind the scenes. It makes you understand the entire production process so much better.

  15. The first picture is a delight, the sun was our big friend that day.
    I have to admit that the fog brought an extra demension, it became a 'small world'. (I do prefer sun as you know ;) )
    You (we) were able to take some great shots anyway.
    The tour inside was wonderful and because I am heard of hearing, I took some close-ups of the costumes.......
    The tour lady did a wonderful job and to me, the 'behind the scenes' of the carpentry was fascinating, the scale of things, I would not mind work there for a year.
    The close-ups from the children are a delight too.
    I know I sound like a broken LP-record, you do a fabulous job putting all of your pictures (mixed in with 1 or 2 from me) in those wonderful collages, thank you for this memory.

  16. Astrid: You know how much I love that we experience these rich pleasures together. We are so lucky. I've had so much fun going through all the images...and I haven't even started the sea voyage! It will come soon. Hartstikke bedankt voor alles. We have so many wonderful memories!

  17. Wonderful!

    It is such a good idea to take the scenic cruise first. Then the fog and swans and ducks. Wow.

    The interior is fabulous. Imagine being able to conceive the design and then find engineers who could complete the task. You know the costume room would just send me, as I bet it did you too, wonderful seamstress that you are.

    The "She Lies" iceberg sculpture is so extraordinary. I remember seeing it on Dutchbaby's blog.

    What a visit!

  18. Ruth: We were so grateful to see this place on two very different days, one of which was sunny. But we were quite partial to the fog! And yes, I should have known you'd love the costume room. How could I not have thought of that. I often think of you and Don when we travel around, seeing things through your eyes. :)

  19. Truly impressive! One has to wonder how much it cost to build the structure.

  20. Tim: Good question! I just Googled it and apparently it cost approximately 4 billion norwegian kroner, or approx. 800 million dollars. Wow. That's a lot of money!!!!

  21. I love behind-the-scenes tour - that sewing room is fabulous (and I don't sew)! The architecture of the opera house is simply breathtaking, amazing. I love your pictures!

  22. Carola: Those behind the scenes can be very educational, as this one was. Thanks for your comment!

  23. What a wonderful report from a wonderful day with you and wonderful photos too!

    I'm glad you had a good time with us - it really shows :-)