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.
- 9 September—4 December 2017
Friends of Covent Garden have the opportunity to purchase tickets to open rehearsals.
- 11 September—10 October 2017
Antonio Pappano conducts a superb young cast including Nicole Car, Michael Fabiano and Mariusz Kwiecień in Richard Jones’s new production of Puccini’s passionate opera.
- 12 September—14 October 2017
Julia Jones conducts The Royal Opera’s gorgeous production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute with two wonderful casts including Roderick Williams as Papageno and Janai Brugger as Pamina.
- 27 September—28 October 2017
Follow Alice down the rabbit hole in Christopher Wheeldon’s exuberant ballet, inspired by Lewis Carroll’s much-loved book.
- 12 October—4 November 2017
Verdi’s spectacular grand opera is conducted by Maurizio Benini with a cast including Malin Byström and Rachele Stanisci, Bryan Hymel, Michael Volle and Erwin Schrott.
- 18–19 October 2017
Dancers from the UK’s five leading ballet companies perform two of MacMillan’s sunniest works alongside a new production of his dark, classical fairytale, as part of Kenneth MacMillan: a National Celebration.