The folks who built the world-famous Oslo Opera House may have had a lot of Aquavit in their systems while imagining the look of the building that opened in April 2008 — but they certainly had reason to celebrate.
Like an iceberg that’s floated across the sea, into the head of Oslofjord and magically crashed into Bjorvika, the colossal Operahuset building is a gleaming white mess of rakish angles jutting from the water that seem to balance on sheets of glass two stories into the grey sky.
Folks lucky enough to be in the area can walk up one of the white planes to the roof for a view of the city on the water before taking a tour inside to the main theater, built in warm-colored wood and lit from above by an ethereal, moonish disc of light.
Folks lucky enough to be super besties with one of the electrical engineers get to ignore the view on the roof and go inside a locked door and see the carnage backstage.
Theater geeks know the cool stuff is always behind the scenes, but with an opera house of this magnitude, I shouldn’t have been quite so surprised to see a bloody body wrapped up, stuck on a cart and marked with a note reading, “For Use On Wednesday.”
Kristian told me not to worry; it was probably fake.
As he led me through the halls and stairwells to the wood workshop, the costume design area and practice suites, we crossed paths with people building sets for future shows, suits marching to the elevator on the phone and of course, the folks on the official Oslo Operahuset tour.
But the tour peeps probably didn’t see the male ballet dancer, well over six feet tall, leaning in a doorway, giving his companion an impassioned speech while in his undies.
Or the rolling set of metal shelves with tutus laid out on trays like cakes.
And they definitely didn’t almost crash into a lady in a well-tailored beige suit topped with feathered angel wings, singing at the top of her lungs as she marched around a corner carrying a briefcase.
After all that, six more fake bodies piled up on a flat near the loading dock were simply background scenery.
At the end of Kristian’s tour, after seeing the mechanical lifts that send sections of the stage into the air during performances (I didn’t think to ask him if they were fast enough to catapult someone, unfortunately), we finally settled into the stiff orange seats of the auditorium to take in a more traditional view.
And that’s when I saw my personal favorite side of the Oslo Operahuset: the backs of the seats.
Instead of offering movies to distract from the puffy-haired bastard sitting in front of you, the little screens on the backs of the seats display scrolling text in your favorite language.
Why? So you can figure out what all the singing is about, you turkey!
I can’t wait to finally find out what happens at the end of “Don Giovanni.”
Boulder expatriate Jeanine Fritz’s weekly musings on life and surtitles in Norway appear in the Colorado Daily every Friday.