Norwegian National Opera & Ballet

The Oslo Opera House features eight art projects. Some of these are integral to the building and were the result of close collaboration between artists and architects. Others are either semi- integrated into the fabric of the building or are autonomous works located outside the building.

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  • Den Norske Opera & Ballett, Oslo. Photographer: Trond Isaksen
  • The other wall, Olafur Eliasson.
  • Hyperouverture, Linus Elmes og Ludvig Löfgren.
  • Hun ligger/She lies, av Monica Bonvicini.
  • Hun ligger/She Lies, av Monica Bonvicini.
  • The other wall, Olafur Eliasson.
  • Metafoil, Pae White.
  • Metafoil, Pae White.
  • Uten tittel (forplassen og taket), av Jorunn Sannes, Kalle Grude og Kristian Blystad.
  • Uten tittel (fasaden og scenetårnene), av Astrid Løvaas og Kirsten Marie Wagle.
  • Uten tittel, Astrid Løvaas og Kirsten Marie Wagle.
  • Hyperouverture, Linus Elmes og Ludvig Löfgren.
  • Opera, en film av Bodil Furu.
  • Swell, en film av Trine Lise Nedreaas.
  • Site Seeing, en bok av Marte Aas, Nina Witoszek-Fitzpatrick, Talleiv Taro Manum, Tom Sandberg og Gerd M. Tinglum.
  • The other wall, Olafur Eliasson.
  • Site seeing, en bok av Marte Aas, Nina Witoszek-Fitzpatrick, Talleiv Taro Manum, Tom Sandberg og Gerd M. Tinglum.
  • Uten tittel (fasaden og scenetårnene), av Astrid Løvaas og Kirsten Marie Wagle.
  • Uten tittel (forplassen og taket), av Kalle Grude, Jorunn Sannes og Kristian Blystad.
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About the project

About the project

The very first art project at Oslo Opera House was Hyperouverture, a performative event by artist duo Linus Elmes (SE) and Ludvig Löfgrens (SE) that took place during the ceremony to lay the foundation stone on 3 September 2004. 13 well-known opera overtures were superimposed and then digitally compressed to form a “hyperoverture” lasting one minute and 42 seconds. During the ceremony, the hyperoverture was played through a specially built loudspeaker aimed directly at a slab of wet cement. The impression created by the sound waves in the cement is the surviving physical record of the event.

In collaboration with Snøhetta, the architectural practice responsible for the design of the opera house, Jorunn Sannes (NO), Kalle Grude (NO) and Kristian Blystad (NO) realized perhaps the building’s most ambitious art project. The project involved the design and surface treatment of the 33,000 individual slabs of marble that make up the 19,000 square metres of stone cladding that covers the area in front of, and the actual roof of, the building. The slabs form a complex jigsaw puzzle that changes character according to the time of day and will change further over the course of time, ­as the marble is exposed to the elements.

Working in collaboration with Snøhetta, textile artists Astrid Løvaas (NO) and Kirsten Wagle (NO) created the designs featured on the aluminium cladding that covers the façades and fly tower. Based on a woven structure, Løvaas and Wagle’s patterns of concave and convex dots were reproduced on sets of 60 x 360-centimetre panels. When placed together, these panels create a repeat pattern that covers the 6,000 square metres of wall surface.

Olafur Eliasson’s (DK/IS) The other wall consists of a 340-square-metre white illuminated panel  installed in front of the three freestanding concrete supports that bear the weight of the opera house’s enormous sloping roof. The perforated panel is illuminated by white and green light sources: one set into the floor in front of the panel, and the other integrated into the rear of the panel and illuminating the wall behind. The two lighting systems fade in and out alternately, so that while one grows stronger, the other dims simultaneously. The project was supported by Sparebankstiftelsen DnB NOR.

The 23 x 11-metre stage curtain, which uses woven matte cotton to create the illusion of a giant piece of shiny foil, was designed by the American artist Pae White. Titled Metafoil, this textile work was created by scanning a crumpled piece of metal foil. The resulting digital image was then transferred to a computer-driven loom that wove the curtain from coloured cotton thread.

Site Seeing is a 340-page hand-bound book of photographs and text. The project was initiated in 2004 through direct commissions to four Norwegian artist photographers and one Polish author living in Norway: Gerd Tinglum, Tom Sandberg, Talleiv Taro Manum, Marte Aas, and Nina Witoszek FitzPatrick. Taking the construction site as their starting point, the artists worked according to self-defined briefs based on the keywords time, place and gaze. The resulting materials were used by Guri Dahl to create an artist’s book that has now been published and is available to purchase.

Before relocating to Bjørvika, the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet had been based in the Folketeatret building in Youngstorget for nearly 50 years. To record this era of the organization’s history, the Art Committee commissioned works from two Norwegian artist film-makers: Bodil Furu, whose film Opera focuses on working life and the backstage environment in the company’s former home; and Trine Lise Nedreaas (NO), whose film Swell follows a beautiful ballerina in a journey backstage, in the wings, and through corridors and rehearsal rooms in the old opera house.

Hun ligger/She lies by Monica Bonvicini (IT) is a sculptural work anchored in the harbour basin outside the opera house. The sculpture is a three-dimensional interpretation of Caspar David Friedrich’s painting Das Eismeer [The Sea of Ice] (1823-24). She lies is an open steel structure that is partly covered with reflective and transparent angled surfaces. Those parts of the structure not covered with reflective panels reveal the design of the structure, as well as allowing the viewer to see through it to the fjord beyond. The project was supported by Kistefos AS.





Kirsten Flagstads Plass 1, 0150 Oslo

Date completed


Project manager

Dag Wiersholm
Mette Kvandal

Art consultant/Art Committee

Sonja Wiik
Erik Engerud
Anne Knutsen

Art Committee

Per Jørgen Østensen
Kjetil Trædal Thorsen
Leif Terje Løddesøl



Building owner/developer





Accessible by the public


Art scheme for new government-owned buildings



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