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.
- 17 May—4 July 2018
Friends of Covent Garden have the opportunity to purchase tickets to open rehearsals.
- 17 May—21 June 2018
The Royal Ballet performs a new production of Tchaikovsky’s magnificent classical ballet. Production and additional choreography by Liam Scarlett and designs by John Macfarlane.
- 7 June—1 July 2018
Wagner’s great Romantic opera is conducted by Andris Nelsons with a cast including Klaus Florian Vogt and Christine Goerke in a new production directed by David Alden.
- 16 June—20 July 2018
The first revival of Richard Jones’s production of Puccini’s passionate opera, conducted by Nicola Luisotti and with two wonderful casts including Maria Agresta and Ekaterina Siurina as Mimì and Matthew Polenzani and Atalla Ayan as Rodolfo.
- 29 June—17 July 2018
In Mozart’s dazzling tragicomic opera, Marc Minkowski conducts a world-class cast led by Mariusz Kwiecień with Ildebrando D’Arcangelo, Rachel Willis-Sørensen, Pavol Breslik and Hrachuhi Bassenz.
- 7–21 July 2018
Robert Carsen’s production of Verdi’s masterful comic opera is filled with wit, humour and sheer joie de vivre.