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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

  • 10 September 2021—15 February 2022

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

Rigoletto

  • 13–29 September 2021

The Royal Opera's new production of Verdi's devastating masterpiece.

The Magic Flute

  • 15 September—7 October 2021

David McVicar's spectacular production of Mozart's comic opera will transport you to a fantastical world of dancing animals, flying machines and starry skies.

Jenufa

  • 28 September—12 October 2021

Claus Guth's staging of Janácek's opera explores the lives of two courageous women struggling for fulfilment in a small rural community, with Asmik Grigorian and Karita Mattila.

Romeo and Juliet

  • 5 October 2021—25 February 2022

Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers encounter passion and tragedy in Kenneth MacMillan's 20th-century ballet masterpiece.

The Dante Project

  • 14–30 October 2021

Wayne McGregor collaborates with an award-winning team – contemporary composer Thomas Adès, artist Tacita Dean, lighting designer Lucy Carter and dramaturg Uzma Hameed – to bring us closer to Dante's vision.