The Copenhagen Opera House (in Danish usually called Operaen) is the national opera house of Denmark, and among the most modern opera houses in the world. It is also one of the most expensive opera houses ever built with construction costs well over 500 million U.S. dollars. It is located on the island of Holmen in central Copenhagen.
The Opera House was donated to the Danish state by the A.P. Møller and Chastine Mc-Kinney Møller Foundation in August 2000 (A.P. Møller was a co-founder of the company now known as Mærsk).
It was designed by the architect Henning Larsen.
The Opera is located in Copenhagen just opposite the main castle Amalienborg at the shore of the harbor. The opera house is built in alignment with Amalienborg and The Marble Church, so that if one stands in the main entrance of the Opera, one can see the Marble Church over the water along the road through Amalienborg.
The specific part of the island where the Opera was built is named Dokøen, which means the Dock Island. Just a few meters west of the opera, one can still see an old dock and a pumping station.
The house is administered by the Royal Danish Theatre and is one of the best-equipped in the world. It has a main stage with five other stages directly connected, where large setups can be moved easily in and out.
There are between 1492 and 1703 seats, depending on the size of the orchestra. The 1492 seats are all individually angled in order to provide the best experience.
The orchestra pit provides room for 110 musicians and the building provides excellent sound quality for the orchestra. If the pit is filled, some musicians are located below a part of the stage, which has become controversial among members of the orchestra (according to tour guides in 2005), because this increases the sound levels beyond those acceptable in Denmark. However, the authorities have permitted this to happen. During the building of the house, acoustic tests were carried out with the iron curtain in place while technical work was carried out on stage, so little consideration was given to balance between pit and stage. If the orchestra is small or absent, the pit can be covered and more seats can be present in the auditorium.
The entrance to the Opera House
Just like the old Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen, the Queen has her own balcony on the left side of the auditorium, closest to the stage. According to the tour guide, she decided that she preferred this arrangement rather than the more conventional central placement because she loves to be close to the stage to see the artists preparing behind the sidewalls before entering the stage.
The foyer has been designed for comfort, based on behavioural research on operagoers maximizing the wall area for standing against, while still providing views across the entire foyer and one of the best views on Copenhagen.
Guided tours cover most of the building, including both the auditorium and backstage areas.