The Norwegian National Opera Orchestra consists of 101 full-time orchestral musicians, and is regarded as one of Norway’s leading orchestras. Throughout the season, the orchestra takes part in around 160 opera and ballet performances, and every season plays three or four major symphonic concerts in the Oslo Opera House’s Main House.
The orchestra has a history dating all the way back to 1827, and more specifically to the Strømbergs Theatre, which was one of the first locations in Norway at which opera was performed. Upon the establishment of the Christiania Theatre in 1837 and the opening of the National Theatre in 1899, these locations became the orchestra’s headquarters, until the Norwegian National Opera opened its doors in Youngstorget in 1959.
When the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet moved into its iconic new building in Bjørvika in 2008, the orchestra gained a dedicated orchestra rehearsal space and premises with world-class acoustics.
Following the establishment of the symphonic concert series, experts such as Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Leif Segerstam, Alexander Lazarev, Michail Jurowski and Hartmut Haenchen have visited the Oslo Opera House and created many magical moments together with the orchestra. In addition to performances and concerts, the orchestra musicians also offer a self-produced chamber music series in the Second House.
The musicians’ most important collective objective is to create the best possible orchestral music framework for the performances of the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet. The orchestra garners critical acclaim, including in cultural media overseas. For many years the orchestra has also maintained a fruitful musical collaboration with Rinaldo Alessandrini, including on the Handel and Mozart operas, and with Alessandrini as conductor gave a critically acclaimed performance of the operatic overtures of W. A. Mozart. It is also possible to enjoy the Norwegian National Opera Orchestra’s participation in performances featuring sopranos Eli Kristin Hanssveen and Marita Sølberg, conducted by John Helmer Fiore.
In the autumn 2016, the orchestra also received the Tom Wilhelmsen Foundation’s opera and ballet prize, constituting NOK 1 million (€107 000). The prize will enable the orchestra to tour to Copenhagen and Helsinki during the autumn of 2017.