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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

Manon

  • 29 March—16 May 2018

Kenneth MacMillan’s masterpiece of modern ballet is revived this Season as part of continuing celebrations of MacMillan’s profound impact on British ballet, to mark the 25th anniversary of his death.

Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk

  • 12–27 April 2018

Richard Jones’s critically acclaimed production returns after more than a decade, with Antonio Pappano conducting a cast led by Eva-Maria Westbroek in Shostakovich’s masterpiece.

Obsidian Tear / Marguerite and Armand / Elite Syncopations

  • 14 April—11 May 2018

Characteristic works from three of The Royal Ballet’s Resident Choreographers – Wayne McGregor, Frederick Ashton and Kenneth MacMillan – display the diversity of The Royal Ballet and its virtuoso dancers.

Orchestral Concert

  • 23 April 2018

Antonio Pappano conducts a concert programme that celebrates the award-winning Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, joined by baritone Christian Gerhaher.

Lessons in Love and Violence

  • 10–26 May 2018

George Benjamin conducts the world premiere of his new collaboration with Martin Crimp – a hotly anticipated work from the creators of Written on Skin, with an excellent, hand-picked cast.

Friends Rehearsals

  • 17 May—4 July 2018

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