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Main Stage

The majestic stage of the Royal Opera House’s historic auditorium.

The auditorium of the Royal Opera House is the largest of London’s Victorian theatres. The current theatre, the third on its site in Covent Garden, was built in 1858 and designed by E.M. Barry. The auditorium seats 2,256 people, in a horseshoe structure modelled on the theatre design popular in Italian opera houses of the 19th century. In the 1997–9 refurbishment of the Royal Opera House a number of innovations were introduced to the main stage and auditorium, though the overall structure has remained largely the same. These innovations included the new fly tower (a system for moving sets and equipment, now 37m high), designed in a classical style to match the rest of the building’s exterior.

The proscenium arch of the main stage is 12.3m high and 14.8m wide and is flanked by gilded barleycorn twists. The inner twists can be adjusted to narrow the proscenium by up to 2m. The house curtains are crimson with gold trimmings and weigh nearly three tons. The performing area of the stage is 245.8m2. The orchestra pit, of an adjustable height, can accommodate up to 90 players. The main stage and backstage areas are operated by a ‘wagon system’ of moveable floors, introduced in the 1997–9 redevelopment. This allows some scene changes (within works or between productions) that take just 40 seconds. There are currently 21 wagons for opera and six for ballet, the latter with sprung floors.

Upcoming productions

Friends Rehearsals

  • 8 March—25 May 2017

Friends of Covent Garden have the opportunity to purchase tickets to open rehearsals.

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

  • The Royal Opera
  • 11–31 March 2017

Kasper Holten makes his farewell as The Royal Opera’s Director of Opera with Wagner’s comic opera, conducted by Antonio Pappano and starring Bryn Terfel.

Madama Butterfly

  • The Royal Opera
  • 20 March—25 April 2017

Antonio Pappano and Renato Balsadonna conduct two great casts led by Ermonela Jaho and Ana María Martínez in Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s production of Puccini’s deeply poignant opera.

Jewels

  • The Royal Ballet
  • 1–21 April 2017

Now celebrating its 50th year, George Balanchine’s sparkling ballet still shines with all the brilliance of the gemstones that inspired it.

The Exterminating Angel

  • The Royal Opera
  • 24 April—8 May 2017

Thomas Adès conducts a huge ensemble cast of world-class singers in the UK premiere of his latest opera, inspired by Luis Buñuel’s iconic film.

Mayerling

  • The Royal Ballet
  • 28 April—13 May 2017

Adult drama meets electrifying choreography in Kenneth MacMillan’s masterful ballet – a devastating tale of extreme passion and desperate acts, inspired by true events.