The reconstruction of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden began in September 2010.
Until summer 2015, the Staatsoper will perform at the Schiller Theater in Berlin Charlottenburg. The address is as follows:
Staatsoper im Schiller Theater
TEL: +49-(0)30-20 35 45 55
The Senate Department for Urban Development and Environment informs on the progress of the Staatsoper's reconstruction on its homepage (German only):
17. May 2011:
Press release issued by the Berlin Senate Administration for Urban Development on the renovation of the Staatsoper
The building work for the general renovation of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden started in September 2010 and has progressed well. Firstly, a large number of supply lines were laid under public streets in preparation for the new underground building which was to connect the opera house with the second building housing the rehearsal rooms and the theatre manager’s office. Following this a number of important steps were undertaken with a view to returning the site to its original state. Subsequent additions to the building, hazardous materials and various installations had to be removed in this respect. To date, 60% of the hazardous materials have been disposed of, 70% of the listed structures of the building dismounted and stored, 35% of the utility lines and 600 tonnes of steel from the stage mechanics removed.
During ground investigations we found, not only a bunker which must in part be removed, but also that the foundations are under threat from soil settlement. In order to prevent damage to neighbouring buildings, e.g. St. Hedwig’s Cathedral, complex and extensive bracing of the construction trench was required.
Despite these unforeseen problems, keeping within our original budget remains our highest priority. Thanks to timely and comprehensive cost-saving efforts in full cooperation with the customers and users we have succeeded in this and have not had to draw on our contingency reserves. Nevertheless the architectural and usage-related design is developing positively. We have planned specific measures to satisfy the demand for improved acoustics in the auditorium, whilst at the same time ensuring that the changes to the interior are in line with the requirements stipulated for the preservation of a historical building. To achieve this, we are simply adding a resonance gallery.
The constructive cooperation between the architects H G Merz and the users, together with the development of innovative solutions, particularly in the auditorium, but also in the former baker’s shop and the new rehearsal centre in the former store-room enabled us to save costs and to realise an attractive architectural design solution.
A number of factors have however brought about delays in further planning. Namely the very time-consuming and labour-intensive bracing required in the construction trench and the unforeseen partial removal of the bunker, but particularly because of the extremely early onset of winter in November 2010, meant that the preparatory construction work for the 12 m deep pit of the underground building had to be interrupted.
The delay of about 6 months brought about by unfavourable weather conditions and the securing of the construction trench and the neighbouring buildings can no longer be compensated for in our very ambitious schedule which had planned completion in October 2013.
Therefore it has been agreed with the management of the Staatsoper and the city cultural administration to postpone the re-opening of the Opernhaus Unter den Linden until the beginning of the 2014 / 2015 season.
The additional time will be used for careful planning, commissioning and putting the opera building into service by the users. Experience gained from the move to the building of the Schiller Theater has shown that adjustment and tuning of stage mechanics and commissioning for performances require considerably more time than initially anticipated.
The Staatsoper will put the additional time buffer to good use: the theatre company will stage four new productions in parallel from May 2014 on – two of them being staged in the new theatre – making a stunning and spectacular opening of the season.
Presently construction orders are being placed: for the preparation of the construction trench amounting to approx. €9.0 million and for the waterproofing of the opera house in the region of €9.5 million.
This is the current state of affairs as communicated by the Berlin Senate Building Director Ms. Regula Lüscher to the Staatsoper employees on the occasion of a visit to the site. Afterwards Theatre Manager Mr. Jürgen Flimm, Berlin Culture Undersecretary André Schmitz and Regula Lüscher opened the new Staatsoper ticket agency which is in the form of a ticket office and info box on Bebelplatz.
21 December 2009:
On 21 December 2009, Berlin Senate Construction Director Ms. Regula Lüscher, Berlin Undersecretary André Schmitz and the architect Professor Merz who was appointed by the Berlin Senate Administration for Urban Development, detailed the planning progress to date and explained the intended reconstruction and restoration measures using a model of the auditorium.
Ms. Regula Lüscher said: “The Staatsoper Unter den Linden will undergo restoration work amounting to €239 million. The building works will cover not only the opera house as such, but also the theatre management and administration building, the underground connecting structure and a large part of the storage building. Important for me are improved acoustics in the auditorium and a restoration in line with the requirements of preserving a historical building. Both planning and construction are on schedule.”
André Schmitz stated: “For us and the Staatsoper the important issues in restructuring and renovation have always been an approach which preserves the historical character of the building by Paulick, together with an improvement of the acoustics and upgrading of the opera facilities and equipment to modern logistical and technical standards. The plan and design presented today can and will achieve this. I am an optimist and I am convinced that the renovation of the Staatsoper will not exceed the time schedule or the budget, so that we can stage a festive re-opening of the theatre Unter den Linden for the 2013/14 season.”
The restoration of the opera building is costing approx. €126 million, of which about €50 million will be spent on the modernisation of the stage technical equipment. An amount of approx. €90 million will be spent on the theatre management and administration building with new rehearsal rooms and the connecting structure required for the running of the opera. Since the original structure is old and in part dilapidated, and there is no detailed record of its condition, reserves of 10 % have been set aside. The German Government, represented by the representative for culture and the media, is making €200 million available for the restoration of the Staatsoper.”
The major objectives of the modernisation of the Staatsoper are improved acoustics in the auditorium which is listed as a historical structure. The acoustics depend mainly on the volume of the room, as it directly affects the resonance time. As shown in our plan, the required increase of the room volume will be realised by raising the hall ceiling, the design and form of which will not be changed. A resonance gallery will be built between the ceiling and the third tier which additionally expands the room outwards by using the historic roof geometry.
The design of this gallery which will fit in well with the interior of the auditorium, will be based on Richard Paulick’s design. His diamond pattern in the stucco work on the ceiling will be repeated in a modern version. Not only will the room volume be increased, but also all surfaces will be improved from the acoustic viewpoint. The use of flat and firm surfaces will help to optimise the resonance time.
The functional operations and processes for the guests as well as for the action on and around the stage related to the performance, must be optimised by construction measures. The main elements of the historical building will not be visibly modified, yet all levels will be accessible. The emergency staircases which up to now could not be used for internal access will be modified to form purpose-built vertical connections between the levels. Additional toilets will be installed. The equipment for stage lighting, sound and overstage and understage machinery will be modernised bringing it up to date with current international standards.
The theatre management building serving as the opera administration building will be renovated observing the requirements stipulated for historical buildings. In order to optimally protect the historic structure, all large and technically complex areas such as rehearsal rooms, the orchestra and choir rehearsal room, the ballet room, and the tuning and warm-up room will be transferred from the theatre management building to the new rehearsal complex in the old storage building.
The rehearsal rooms will be built to the same dimensions and acoustic conditions as the main stage. The warm-up and rehearsal rooms have optimum acoustic insulation thanks to a “room in a room” construction.
The connection of the rehearsal complex to the opera house by a new underground structure allows the transport of large-size stage set elements. Thus rehearsal in the storage building is possible with the original stage setting, which avoids long re-setting breaks and considerably simplifies the internal logistics routines.
Construction started in September 2010. Re-opening after the renovation is scheduled for October 2014.