After a long seven years of construction, Berlin’s Staatsoper opera house will temporarily open its doors from September 30th to October 3rd. After which the Staatsoper will take a hiatus of roughly two months while technicians familiarize themselves with the new computer-operated stage equipment needed to bring the season into full swing.
According to the company’s general director Jurgen Flimm, there are a number of challenges posed by the move from Schiller Theater, where performances of the previous seven seasons were often sold-out, back to the Staatsoper Unter den Linden. This move was intended to take place four years ago before renovation costs shot up from 239 million Euros to 400 million, roughly half of which being covered by federal funding. An underground tunnel, connecting the stage to the rehearsal center, played a role in the Staatsoper’s slow reopening.
The renovations to the opera house include raising the ceiling by approximately 15 feet, and lining the space above the highest balcony with an acoustically transparent net to improve distribution of sound. The number of seats has been reduced from 1400 to 1360, which create a more immersive experience according to the new general director Matthias Schulz.
Schulz, who came to the position in April, believes that Staatsoper will “adjust the city’s point of gravity,” becoming part of Berlin’s cultural district along with Humboldt Forum, which opens in 2019, Humboldt University, and the Museum Island. Schulz also hopes to bring greater awareness to the opera house’s historical roots, having been finished in 1742 before it was destroyed three times, two of which during World War II.
Looking to the future, Schulz plans on establishing a children’s orchestra, one which will involve all of Berlin’s public schools, to nurture the creative potential of the city’s youth.
The season begins Sept. 30, featuring seven full-scale productions and sixteen concerts with the Staatskapelle Berlin orchestra. While the road to reopening has been arduous, it has been well worth the hardship. Music director Daniel Barenboim says the company will “spare no effort in producing the highest quality possible.”