Refurbishment of Berlin's Staatsoper opera house has been mired in controversy.Berlin’s Staatsoper Unter den Linden is scheduled to reopen on 7 December following a seven-year refurbishment that has run millions over budget and taken three years longer than planned.
The opera house will reopen on its 275th birthday following a temporary reopening in October when Daniel Barenboim conducted Scenes from Goethe’s Faust, attended by German chancellor Angela Merkel.
However the opera house promptly closed again for two months of finishing touches.
The Staatsoper was supposed to reopen four years ago at a total cost of €240 million. Instead it has taken twice as long and, at €400 million, has proven almost twice as expensive.
The opera house management has faced questions over the delays and final price tag, and the new-look theatre was slated by critics as a "triumph of conservatism over innovation".
Led by German architectural firm HG Merz, the main restructuring works included raising the ceiling of the main hall by five metres to improve the acoustics, and excavating a tunnel between the rehearsal area and the main stage. Seating has also been reduced from 1,398 to 1,356, for reasons of comfort, and the neo-classical façade has been repainted pink.
Over the centuries the opera house has had several name changes, has been gutted by fire, rebuilt and remodelled, and was bombed during world war two. The original building opened its doors on 7 December 1742 with performance of Carl Heinrich Graun’s Cesare e Cleopatra.