Opera hosted huge roof party

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Norway’s national Opera House celebrated its first anniversary by opening up its roof to the masses over the weekend, and rigging up an outdoor screen to share the performance going on inside.

It’s been no easy task getting tickets for performances inside. Almost everything on the program for the Opera House that opened in April 2008 has been solidly sold out, as are most performances in the months to come.

Such was the case for the opera that just opened in the new Opera House on Oslo’s waterfront, Carmen . Tickets sold out last summer, so for many, Saturday’s free outdoor broadcast was the only chance they’d have to see the production.

An estimated 7,000 persons came prepared with wool blankets, mats to sit on and something warm to drink while they waited for the show to begin. The first arrivals were in place more than three hours before new opera chief Paul Curran could welcome the outdoor audience to what quickly was billed as an historic event.

“This really was an initiative from the Opera’s staff and cast, their gift to the public,” information chief Sverre Gunnar Haga told newspaper Aftenposten. “And we have received the confirmation we wanted, that this would be a great day in the history of Norwegian opera.”

Haga said the overwhelming turnout virtually guarantees that opera officials will host another outdoor gala.

“There are some things we’ll want to do better, like have more refreshment stands and more garbage cans,” he said. They may also want to use a larger screen. Some of those sitting far away said the sound was good, but they couldn’t see much of the actual live broadcast from inside the Opera House.

The sound, meanwhile, will undoubtedly improve a few years from now, when the busy highway running adjacent to the Opera House is diverted into a new tunnel still being built under the harbor area at Bjørvika.

The opera itself, meanwhile, won good reviews from critics in local papers. Georges Bizet’s Carmen is one of the world’s most-performed operas, with some of the world’s most popular music. The production now running in Oslo also has been performed at the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden in London.

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